Royal Navy Unveils First In New Fleet Of Carrier Helicopters

Commando Merlin Mk4 is specially designed for Royal Marine operations...

The Royal Navy has showcased the first of a fleet of new helicopters, specially designed for Royal Marine carrier operations.

The Commando Merlin Mk4 has been upgraded to ensure it can now operate from sea.

Lieutenant Commander Alex Hampson from 845 Naval Air Station says the new helicopter sets a new standard:

"It's really quite advanced in comparison to the other aircraft we are up against."

The new version has been in development for four years and can fly faster and further than the previous Merlin Mk3.

The Mk4 contains features which are specially designed to allow Royal Marines to operate from the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The main feature of the Commando Merlin Mk4 is the folding main rotor and tail, which allows the aircraft to take up less space.

Four of the new folded Merlins can occupy the same hanger space as one Chinook, which is also used for transporting troops.

The cockpit of the new helicopter will be controlled by two pilots and two aircrew, and the rear can carry 24 passengers or a vehicle.

Guto Bebb MP, the Minister for Defence Procurement says the upgraded modifications will also benefit the occupants.

"Greater protection which is the most important thing we can offer to the Royal Marines as well."

In total, 25 Commando Merlin Mk4 helicopters will be delivered to the air wing of the Royal Marines - the Commando Helicopter Force.

The first ten will come into service by the end of the year, and will be used in the UK and off the east coast of the United States during sea trials with HMS Queen Elizabeth

Merlin mk 4 infographic
The helicopter in numbers. (Picture: MoD).