Safran Helicopter Engines will continue to support the RTM322 turboshafts powering the Royal Navy’s fleet of Leonardo Helicopters AW101 Merlins for a further six years under a new contract.

Running from 1 April 2024, the single-source agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) also contains options to extend the support provision until the Merlin’s out-of-service date in 2040.

Merlin-c-Crown Copyright

Source: Crown Copyright

Royal Navy operates 55 examples of three-engined helicopter, including HC4 transport variant

Safran Helicopter Engines has been supporting the RTM322 fleet for the past 11 years. The operation is managed from the manufacturer’s site in Fareham in southern England, with field service representatives on site at Merlin bases NAS Culdrose, Cornwall and NAS Yeovilton, Somerset.

In total, the Royal Navy operates 55 AW101 Merlins, split between the HM2 anti-submarine warfare and HC4/4A transport variants. Each helicopter is powered by three RTM322s.

Cedric Goubet, chief executive of Safran Helicopter Engines, says: “We are immensely proud to support the UK MoD and the missions of the Royal Navy and are delighted that the MoD trusts us to be its preferred supplier for RTM322 engine support until the out-of-service date for the Merlin helicopter.

“We are excited to continue our long-standing partnership with the UK MoD and seek to build on our excellent capabilities and facilities in the UK.”

Safran Helicopter Engines says the contract will safeguard 32 direct UK jobs and provide future security for over 160 UK jobs.

The engine maker remains hopeful that its Aneto-1K powerplant can form part of the solution for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement, if selected by bidder Leonardo Helicopters to equip its AW149.