Navy takes delivery of next-generation Merlin

Top American admiral visits Portsmouth Naval Base

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THE first of the Royal Navy’s fleet of next-generation Merlin helicopters has been officially handed over.

The five aircraft, which have been upgraded as part of a £750m deal, have been given to the navy’s Fleet Air Arm.

NEW One of the Merlins

NEW One of the Merlins

With a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and upgraded technology, the helicopters will have an improved ability to track targets and share data with other aircraft and warships.

They will be put to use by the navy in a number of roles including supporting the fleet on counter piracy and casualty evacuation operations.

Commander Ben Franklin, the commanding officer of the Merlin Helicopter Force, said: ‘I am extremely proud to be leading the Merlin Force during this period.

‘The delivery of the first five aircraft to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm is a real milestone of this programme which will provide vital support to the navy as it fulfils its role in protecting UK interests across the globe.’

The current Merlin Mk1 is primarily an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

They are used across the world by the Royal Navy to support warships on operations.