The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a £580m contract to AgustaWestland, to provide maintenance support to the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 and Mk3 helicopters.
Under the new contract, the company will deliver the required support over the next five years and is expected to deliver more than £140m savings.
The majority of the work will be carried out at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil and at the Royal Navy Air Station Culdrose (RNAS) in Cornwall, UK.
UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "This investment forms part of this government’s commitment to invest £11.2bn into our helicopter fleet over the next ten years as part of a £163bn Equipment Plan to provide the very best equipment and equipment support to our troops.
"In addition, the contract will sustain more than 1,000 jobs, which will maintain vital engineering skills in the defence sector."
Approximately 19 of 30 Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters have been delivered so far to the Royal Navy at RNAS Culdrose.
Designed to carry out operations globally, the Merlin Mk2 helicopters are expected to be based on the Royal Navy’s next generation Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, along with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, as well as onboard frigates, destroyers and support ships.
Belonging to the Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force, the Merlin Mk3 battlefield support helicopter can carry a range of cargo either internally or underslung including artillery, light-strike vehicles and more than five tonnes of freight.
UK MoD Defence Equipment and Support organisation helicopters director, air vice-marshal Julian Young said: "The Merlin is an important part of our overall Helicopter Force, providing a variety of specialist and general roles in all weathers over land and sea.
"We are bringing in the contract one year earlier than planned to meet the requirements of the front-line commands and to deliver financial benefits, which is a great achievement and shows how the MoD can adapt flexibly to support the needs of our armed forces."
Image: A UK Royal Navy Merlin anti-submarine helicopter. Photo: courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence.