A Merlin Mk2 comes in to land on HMS Tamar 06012021 Credit Navy.jpg
A Merlin Mk2 comes in to land on HMS Tamar (Picture: Royal Navy).
Aircraft

How much does a Merlin helicopter cost to run?

The Merlin Mk2 is a specialist when it comes to hunting submarines but can also conduct search and rescue.

A Merlin Mk2 comes in to land on HMS Tamar 06012021 Credit Navy.jpg
A Merlin Mk2 comes in to land on HMS Tamar (Picture: Royal Navy).

Merlin Mk2 helicopters have taken on a growing role within the Royal Navy's airborne fleet.

The service operates a total of 30 aircraft under the variant, based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, using inviting anti-submarine and airborne early-warning capability onto a range of vessels.

Alongside the standard build, the newly introduced 'Crowsnest' design is supporting HMS Queen Elizabeth during the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.

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But how much does it cost the British taxpayer each time a Merlin takes to the skies?

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has responded to a Freedom of Information request, stating: "The cost per hour to run a Merlin Mk2 loaded to full capacity is £15,871 (VAT included).

"This is based upon a standard configuration of the aircraft."

The helicopter is capable of round-the-clock maritime patrol in its surveillance role.

A Merlin being prepared for Crowsnest upgrade (Picture: Royal Navy).

Merlin Mk2s hold a crew of five, with a lift capacity of 3.8 tonnes, a maximum speed of 160 knots and a maximum altitude of 15,000ft.

They cost £2.4m each, according to the Royal Navy.

Armed with Sting-Ray torpedoes, Mk11 Depth Charges and the M3m .50 Calibre Machine Gun, the aircraft also operates advanced radar and sonar equipment to help spot submarine threats.

These upgrades came alongside a redesigned cockpit and computer system – the 30 Mk2s were upgraded as part of the £805m Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme.