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UK Navy receives upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopters

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The Merlin helicopter. An AgustaWestland photo

YEOVIL, UK (BNS): The Royal Navy of UK has received of the first five upgraded AW101 Merlin HM Mk2 helicopters.

The Navy on Tuesday took delivery of the maritime choppers during a ceremony at the RNAS Culdrose, marking the formation of the Navy's first Merlin HM Mk2 equipped squadron.

The helicopters have been upgraded under a £750 million AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin led contract.

The refurbished Merlin Mk 2 helicopter features state-of-the-art glass cockpit, improved avionics and aircrew mission console. It has improved ability to detect and track targets and share data with other aircraft and ships while airborne.

These and equipment improvements will also enable the helicopters to carry out counter piracy and casualty evacuation roles.

A total of 30 Merlin Mk1 helicopters are being converted to Mk2 variant by AgustaWestland at its Yeovil facility, supported by prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

Following the completion of trials, the first helicopters are expected to be ready for operational deployment by summer 2014.

Delivery of all 30 Merlin HM Mk2s will be completed in 2015, AgustaWestland said.

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