The UK Royal Navy is set to receive a newly upgraded next-generation anti-submarine maritime patrol helicopter, Merlin Mk2, as part of the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP).

The Merlin Mk2 helicopter represents the 30th and final upgraded airframe that has been delivered to the UK Ministry of Defence by Lockheed Martin UK at Leonardo’s facility in Yeovil, England.

The delivery also marks a significant milestone in the MCSP programme, under which all the airframes have been handed over on time and on budget.

"Merlin continues to be a world beating maritime helicopter that is an asset critical to UK defence."

Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems vice-president Bob Kramer said: “Merlin continues to be a world beating maritime helicopter that is an asset critical to UK defence and that will be an integral part of the future aircraft carrier capability.

“The success of this programme has been a result of excellent teamwork among industry and our government partners that has enabled us to consistently deliver on cost and schedule.”

As part of a £750m contract, employees from both Lockheed Martin and Leonardo have been involved in the design, development and manufacture of the Merlin Mk2 for the last ten years.

Under the MCSP, Merlin Mk1 helicopters have been converted to Mk2s to enhance and extend their life with the Royal Navy. The first upgraded aircraft was delivered in November 2012.

The Merlin Mk2s are now fitted with new radars, sonar systems, infra-red cameras, and large flat panel displays to provide the pilot with superior situational awareness capability.

These enhancements will also enable the helicopters to perform counter piracy and casualty evacuation roles.

In a separate development, Lockheed delivered the 24th and final MH-60R Seahawk helicopter to the US Navy. It is destined for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Image: Lockheed Martin UK and Leonardo staff during handover of the 30th Merlin Mk2. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.