THE Royal Navy’s next generation of submarine-hunting Merlin helicopters have entered service with the Royal Navy four months early.
Embarked on HMS Illustrious before she returned home to Portsmouth for the last time this week, the Merlin Mk2 aircraft took part in Exercise Deep Blue, simulating anti-submarine warfare, maritime patrol and casualty evacuation capabilities.
The new helicopters are part of an £800m programme to upgrade the Royal Navy’s existing fleet of aircraft.
The Merlins, which have been delivered on budget, have state of the art glass cockpits which provide improved night vision capability for pilots, and an updated combat system with touch screen display.
Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne MP, said: ‘The updated Merlin is one of the most technologically advanced, and effective anti-submarine helicopters and their entry into service is a real boost for the Royal Navy.
‘Delivering the Merlin Mk2 into service four months ahead of schedule and to budget is a real achievement and shows how the MoD is working well with industry to deliver world class equipment.’