Merlin Mk 2 Chopper Embarks on HMS St Albans
The Royal Navy’s upgraded submarine-hunting and maritime patrol helicopter will be contributing to the fight against piracy and terrorism on the high seas this winter.
Tried and tested in European waters over the past couple of years – including a large-scale anti-submarine exercise in the Atlantic in 2014, Merlin Mk2 will be fundamental to patrols carried out by HMS St Albans well into the second half of 2016.
After a decade of operations around the globe, the Merlin Mk 2, based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose was declared fully operational this summer.
Among improvements over the Mk 1 are a fully integrated electro-optic and infra-red camera which can beam imagery back to St Albans’ operations room day and night.
Upgraded radar also means they can detect, track and classify more surface ships which will allow Lieutenant Commander Lauren Hulston, Merlin’s Flight Commander and her team to go about their business more efficiently in the congested waters of the Gulf.
“Embarking on a Middle East deployment is a great opportunity to prove and test such a great piece of equipment,” said Lt. Commander Hulston.
With the addition of an integrated Defensive Aids Suite and enhanced ballistic protection as well for the first time, Merlin is better protected against threats from missiles and small arms fire, allowing them to operate in more challenging, higher threat environments.