The Ministry of Defense has just announced that they have taken delivery of the 30th upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopter from aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Representatives from the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defense were joined by Lockheed Martin UK in a ceremony to commemorate the handover of the final airframe at Leonardo’s facility in Yeovil, England. Over the past ten years the two companies have collaborated as a team in order to design, develop, and manufacture Merlin Mk2 as part of the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme. With just a shade under $750 million, the contract for thirty Mk1 helicopters were upgraded to enhance and extend their life of operations with the Royal Navy.
November 2012 was the date when the first helicopter was handed over and with the completion of this week’s event, a major milestone was reached as all the airframes were delivered on time and on budget. Over the course of this project over 1,000 jobs were sustained where the helicopters were based throughout MCSP in Havant, Yeovil and Culdrose. Vice President of Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems, Bob Kramer believes that as Merlin continue to be a critical UK defense asset that the world beating maritime helicopter will remain an integral part of the future aircraft carrier capability and that the success of the program is predicated on a blend of teamwork and cost-efficiency. Since being introduced into operations with the Royal Navy, the Merlin Mk2s have been absolutely vital in the rescue operations of migrants in the Mediterranean and on operations in Sierra Leone region. Armed with new sonar systems, radars, infra-red cameras and large flat panel displays which all contribute to providing Merlin pilots with greater situational awareness and safety.
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