skip to main content

UK completes Merlin HC4/4A upgrades

The Royal Navy has now received back into service all 25 HC3/3A Merlin helicopters that have been upgraded to the maritime HC4/4A Merlin Commando standard. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The UK has upgraded the last of its Leonardo Merlin HC3/3A (latterly the interim iHC3/3A standard) transport and assault helicopters for littoral use by the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Marines (RM).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the milestone on 2 December, saying all 19 HC3 and six HC3A Merlin helicopters are now at the HC4/4A Commando Merlin standard, and ready to support 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and other UK forces through to their planned out-of-service date (OSD) of 2030.

“The 25 aircraft have been updated by Leonardo Helicopters under the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) negotiated by Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the UK Ministry of Defence,” the MoD said.

The Merlins were transferred from the Royal Air Force (RAF) to the RN Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) in July 2015, being delivered in a baseline HC3/3A ‘land' configuration. Seven of these were then modified to the interim iHC3 configuration to bridge an operational capability gap between the retirement of the Westland Commando HC4s on 31 March 2016, and the introduction into service of the Merlin HC4/4A in September 2017.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...