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Aero India 2023

UK Navy tests operational readiness of Merlin helicopters

A Sting Ray Mod 1 anti-submarine torpedo is dropped from a Royal Navy Merlin helicopter during the trials. A UK Navy photo

LONDON (BNS): The British Royal Navy has tested the operational readiness of its medium multi-role Merlin transport helicopters which are primarily tasked with anti-surface ship and anti-submarine warfare missions.

The trial of the helicopters was conducted near the Isle of Skye in Scotland by a unit of Royal Navy aircrew and engineers. The team spent a week testing the choppers’ sensors and weapons “to ensure that aircrew are ready for any operational deployment that they may be tasked with,” the UK MoD said.

During the trial, the Merlin’s potent suite of sensors and eight advanced ‘Sting Ray Mod 1’ torpedoes, which were fired in simulated attacks, were put to test.

The Merlin is an all-weather, day and night, multi-role helicopter used for both tactical and strategic purposes. Its primary roles include anti-surface ship and anti-submarine warfare, tracking and surveillance, amphibious operations, and search and rescue missions.

The helicopter can carry up to four homing torpodes and two general purpose machine guns, while its anti-surface version is capable of carrying a range of air-to-surface missiles. As a transport helicopter, it can carry a range of bulky cargo including artillery, Land Rovers or light-strike vehicles and over five tonnes of freight. Its spacious cabin can also accommodate up to 24 fully equipped combat troops.

The helicopter is equipped with extended range fuel tanks and is capable of air-to-air refuelling.

The first Merlin entered service with the British Royal Navy in 1998. The choppers have since then been deployed worldwide to support the Royal Navy in its operation.


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