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Leonardo-Finmeccanica announced recently that the first AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Mk4 successfully completed its maiden flight at its Yeovil facility in southwest England. Leonardo is upgrading 25 Royal Navy Merlin Mk3/3A aircraft to Merlin Mk4/4A standard as part of the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) contract. The MLSP contract is valued at £330 million and was awarded in January 2014 by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). Deliveries of aircraft will start in 2017 and continue through to 2020 with the work being performed at Leonardo’s Yeovil facility.
The AW101 Merlin Mk4/4A aircraft are fully optimized for ship operations and include automatic main rotor blade folding and tail fold. The aircraft are also fitted with the same cockpit as the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 aircraft, giving the Merlin fleet a common cockpit featuring five 10” x 8” integrated display units, two touch screen units for controlling the aircraft’s systems and mission equipment, as well as two cursor control devices for cursor control of the tactical displays.
Three powerful GE CT7-8E engines with FADEC, highly responsive main rotor system with negative pitch, excellent tail rotor authority, high descent rate undercarriage, harpoon deck-lock and proven deck handling system will enable operations in severe weather and high sea states. Other features include: low workload Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible glass cockpit; fully integrated avionics suite and mission systems to provide situational awareness, rapid tactical assessment, and mission effectiveness; and network enabled capability to Find, Fix and Strike.
The AW101 Merlin Mk4 will deliver enhanced capability for the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force. The Merlin Mk4 and Mk4A aircraft will be supported through the existing Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract, which has been in place since 2006 with Leonardo as prime contractor.
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