YEOVIL, England. The first AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Mk4 helicopter from Leonardo Helicopters in Rome, Italy, with advanced avionics from General Dynamics and TTTech completed its maiden flight at the company’s facility in Yeovil, southwest England.
Leonardo is upgrading 25 Royal Navy Merlin Mk3/3A aircraft to Merlin Mk4/4A standard as part of the Merlin Life Sustainment Program (MLSP) contract valued at £330 million and awarded in January 2014 by the U.K. 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 will deliver enhanced capability for the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force. The AW101 Merlin Mk4/4A aircraft are optimized for ship operations and includes 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-inch x 8-inch integrated display units, two touchscreen units for controlling the aircraft’s systems and mission equipment, and two cursor control devices for cursor control of the tactical displays.
General Dynamics UK in Blackwood, England, provided mission system equipment for the UK AW101 Merlin Mk4/4a helicopters. The mission system equipment now delivered by General Dynamics UK includes a Tactical Processing System and Secure Data Recorder, which provide increased performance and capability onboard the helicopter.
TTTech, maker of robust networking and safety controls in Vienna, Austria, provided General Dynamics UK with the TTTech TTE-End System A664 Rugged PMC, allowing seamless integration within the AFDX avionics network equipping the Leonardo Helicopters AW101 Merlin.
The first Merlin Mk4 will be delivered later this year, with the entire fleet of 25 helicopters scheduled to be completed for the Royal Navy by the end of 2020.
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