The UK Royal Navy’s next-generation anti-submarine maritime patrol AW101 Merlin HM Mk2 helicopter is undergoing initial trials with Duke-class Type 23 vessel, HMS Lancaster.
The helicopter, which has been in service with the Royal Navy for more than a decade, is in the middle of a £750m revamp programme.
The fleet of helicopters based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall are scheduled to undergo a modernisation programme and will take the fight to submarines until the end of the 2020s.
As part of the upgrade programme, the Mk 2 Merlin is equipped with a state-of-the-art touch screen and integrated command system for both flying and fighting.
01 Flight Commander lieutenant commander Simon Stevenson said that the team will work together with HMS Lancaster, testing the Merlin helicopter capabilities to the maximum.
"This short embarkation represents another major step forward of the integration of a vastly capable and complex aircraft into the Royal Navy, ensuring we remain at the forefront of anti-surface and sub-surface warfare," Stevenson said.
In June, the new Merlin is scheduled to undergo the biggest test involving huge submarine hunt led by HMS Illustrious during Exercise Deep Blue in the Atlantic.
UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) commander, commander Peter Laughton said that the team will work very closely with Mk 2 and its crew to ensure its successful introduction into front-line service.
"The new Merlin is a huge step forward in capability for the Royal Navy and Lancaster is very privileged to be part of these trials," Laughton said.
Image: A Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk 2 landing aboard HMS Lancaster. Photo: courtesy of Pete Jones.