Two UK Royal Navy (RN) Wildcat HMA.2 helicopters have been deployed to Oman to replace a shore-based detachment of Merlin HMA.2 helicopters in the Middle Eastern country.
The RN has had shore-based Merlin maritime helicopters in Oman for more than a decade to monitor shipping movements in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and support Omani naval forces patrolling their territorial waters.
UK naval sources told Jane’s that the handover of the Oman commitment from Merlin to Wildcat in late 2017 was part of RN helicopter fleet management plans. These called for the service’s 30 Merlin HMA.2s to be concentrated back at their home base at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall to support the generation of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first carrier air group later this year and the introduction of the Crowsnest airborne early warning variant of the Merlin.
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