The Merlin HM.Mk 1 is the Royal Navy's newest frontline helicopter, a shipborne sub-hunter due to make its first operational deployment next year.

At several points in his presentation, Commander Phil Shaw, RN, the CO of No.824 Squadron, departed from his prepared text, emphasising that he was expressing his own opinion, and not that of Lockheed Martin (the Merlin's systems integrator), EHI (the airframe manufacturer) or the UK MoD.


As the Royal Navy officer responsible for bringing the Merlin HM. Mk 1 into service, Shaw painted an optimistic picture, emphasising that he was 'thrilled to bits with the aircraft' and that his pilots all 'wore massive grins'. He underlined the aircraft's many improvements over the Sea King which it is replacing, and described the aircraft's potential. But at the same time, Shaw openly conceded that there had been teething troubles (though these were minor) and expressed the opinion that the aircraft lacked certain key weapons, systems and capabilities. He noted that the aircraft lacks a stand off ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare) missile capability, and candidly admitted that the aircraft does not have a Defensive Aids System (chaff and flare dispensers being a minimum requirement), while the Orange Reaper ESM equipment is installed but still not operational, having proved too sensitive when operating close to land. The aircraft is clearly making rapid progress towards full operational capability, however, having achieved a succession of important milestones.

Source: Flight Daily News