The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to QinetiQ to provide test and evaluation services in support of Merlin life sustainment programme (MLSP).
Under the five-year contract, worth £16m, QinetiQ will convert 25 Mk 3/3A Merlin helicopters, currently operated by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), for maritime operations for the Royal Navy.
While working AgustaWestland, which will undertake the conversion work, QinetiQ will provide the independent technical and safety advice, as well as testing and support to the certification of the interim and full operating capability for the MoD Merlin project team (PT).
DE&S Merlin PT leader Captain Ed Tritschler RN said: "QinetiQ’s involvement is key to us understanding the risks associated with its continued safe operation in a number of new operational environments.
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"This contract continues our long-term relationship with QinetiQ supporting our requirements for independent advice on the Merlin platform."
The contract will be delivered using the 25-year £5.6bn long-term partnership agreement (LTPA) between the MoD and QinetiQ.
QinetiQ Air Division managing director Gaz Borland said: "We are very pleased to have been awarded this contract, which not only illustrates the value we can bring to MOD Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) as independent advisors but also ensures that the skills and expertise gained on the Merlin aircraft over the last 20 years are sustained.
QinetiQ will also provide recommendations for release to service to ensure the aircraft can be operated safely in broad operational environment, including operation from Royal Navy ships.
Image: A Merlin helicopter takes off from a aircraft carrier. Photo: courtesy of QinetiQ.