EH101 Merlin Mk 1 Helicopter Deploys to Caribbean to Support Homeland Defense Exercises
Owego, NY, 17-FEB-04 -- An EH101 Merlin Mk 1 helicopter has arrived in the Caribbean aboard HMS Monmouth, a Type 23 frigate operated by Britain's Royal Navy. The aircraft will use its powerful radar and other electronic systems to provide over-the-horizon surveillance capabilities for the ship during homeland defense operations with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy.
The aircraft is one of 44 Merlin Mk 1 helicopters delivered to the Royal Navy by prime contractor Lockheed Martin. The Merlin project ranks as one of the United Kingdom's top systems' integration projects and one of the most successful examples of complex program management.
The Caribbean deployment marks the second time a Royal Navy Merlin Mk 1 aircraft has supported U.S. operations in the past 12 months. During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), four Merlin aircraft provided the American-led naval task force in the Arabian Gulf with 24-hour airborne radar coverage of the waters surrounding the fleet, as well as troop transport and casualty evacuation.
During the OIF deployment, the Merlin aircraft proved their interoperability with coalition forces by integrating their onboard radar via datalink with the fleet's command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) network. The accuracy and fidelity of the radar picture over the high-speed link enabled naval commanders to monitor EH101 radar-generated tracks and information in real time. Combined with the aircraft's high endurance and speed, the task force was able to quickly declare large areas of water free from threats, thereby allowing the fleet to maneuver with few restrictions.
Since their operational debut in 1998, a total of 92 EH101 multi-mission helicopters flown by armed forces in the UK, Canada, Italy and Japan have accumulated nearly 50,000 flight hours, including more than 100 combat missions in Iraq and Bosnia last year. The medium-lift aircraft's large cabin and a third engine for safety, among other attributes, make the EH101 the most versatile helicopter platform in its class.
An American variant of the helicopter -- the US101 -- is currently being considered by the U.S. Navy for the Marine One presidential helicopter fleet. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego leads Team US101 as prime contractor and systems integrator to build the US101 aircraft with principal subcontractors AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter and GE Aircraft Engines. The American-built US101 will source at least 65 percent content from suppliers across 41 states. Lockheed Martin delivered the team's proposal to the Navy on Feb. 2. A contract award is expected in May.
As prime contractor for the Royal Navy's EH101 Merlin Mk 1 aircraft, we are very pleased to see the tremendous capabilities of this unique helicopter system integrated with U.S. forces in joint maritime operations, said Stephen D. Ramsey, Lockheed Martin's US101 vice president and general manager. As team leader for US101, we are proud to bring the aircraft to the United States, this time to transform its role to an executive 'Office in the Sky' helicopter system worthy of the name Marine One.