The Royal Air Force Air Mobility Force has carried out sorties to recover this year’s exercise equipment from the Middle East, including a Royal Navy helicopter back to the UK just in time for Christmas.  

The Royal Navy helicopter, from 845 Naval Air Squadron, is a Merlin MK4 that was loaded onto a 99 Sqn RAF C-17 Globemaster strategic transport aircraft. 

The loading, carried out by a combined RAF and RN team, took over 6 hours and was completed as the sun set over the Middle East, ready for the flight to the UK.

According tot he Royal Air Force:

The RAF Brize Norton based 99 Sqn C-17 Globemaster arrived at its home base in Oxfordshire, where the Merlin will be reassembled and tested.  It will then be flown to its home base of Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, in Somerset.  The sortie was carried out due to the range of a Merlin which would have required multiple through countries adding time, resources, and potential logistical issues. Weighing twice as much as a double decker bus and as high as 3 large artificial Christmas trees, the dismantling of the Merlin for loading onto the C-17 took 5 days to prepare for the flight.”

845 NAS’s Flight Senior Maintenance Rating, Chief Petty Officer Kay said:

“Preparation for a move like this takes time primarily due to the weight of the kit. Firstly, the heavier parts such as the tail pylon and the rotor blades are removed, then smaller elements like the aerials and any hazardous materials such as fuel. This is an intricate task on a large scale, but our engineers are well trained so tackle the task with precision ensuring everything has run smoothly.”

The C-17 can rapidly deliver all types of cargo and troops worldwide, however this type of move is particularly difficult as other complex freight can be broken down into smaller parts. The RAF added in their news release that this sortie was just one of several that have returned equipment from all three services that have conducted exercises in the region during the year.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago

Interesting! Do we know where the Merlin was flown back from and what she was up to? 845 NAS is a ‘Junglie’ unit isn’t it?

Hadn’t really thought about it before but I’m guessing HMS Lancaster (and now also Diamond) carry Wildcat’s as the Merlin HM2’s are predominantly used from the carriers and ASW T23’s.

2e
2e
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

Probably RAFO Musannah

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

Yes, it is.
845,846, and 847 form the CHF.

Tim
Tim
3 months ago

Bit late to this thread, but DM you’ll know this. What are the differences between the different variants and why can’t they all be basic cabs with the extra bits clipped in as needed?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Hi Tim.
I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m really not that knowledgable there.
These Merlin used by the CHF are the ex RAF ones, which numbered 22 and then an additional 6. So they won’t ever have had any of the ASW specific kit the RNs HM1 then HM2s had.
No idea about “clipping in” bits as and when required, I understand the Merlin in the ASCS role with Crowsnest can be changed and those cabs revert to ASW as needed.

DRS
DRS
3 months ago

When was the last Merlin bought? Would Navy ever consider buying a few a year so that over time we slowly replace/update existing. If you ordered say 15/20 over 5 years you get a 3/4 rate per year sustaining skills and also be able to try upgrades on smaller batches. When you want a bigger replacement no you make a contract for a bigger order at the time on top. Same for tanks, IFV etc etc. Any surplus we sell or sell after a few years of use.

Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago
Reply to  DRS

Far too sensible. The British way is to have one (albeit sprawling and expensive) contract that has a hard ending and then results in us paying through the nose and looking to reinvent the wheel once a replacement is required.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

As high as three artificial Christmas trees….that must be a new low in units of measurement.

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes mate, wtf is that all about? A seasonal jape 💭👎

CVerrier
CVerrier
3 months ago
Reply to  DH

There’s a standard conversion of 3.8 Christmas Trees to one double decker bus.

Other more complex conversions to Olympic Swimming Pools and towns the size of Swindon need special training

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  CVerrier

Let’s get up to date, recently it’s been ” adding a Liverpool every year” when discussing immigration….

Someone needs to do a conversion chart here….

First with the correct answer gets a Christmas hamper…

Q: If a nuclear submarine can power a town the size of Swindon and we add a Liverpool in terms of immigration every year, how many nuclear Submarines would it take to power the additional Christmas tree fairy lights after 5 years?

The pressing question of our time gents.,

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

You’ve actually just blown my mind 😵‍💫

Last edited 3 months ago by Jonathan
Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
3 months ago
Reply to  CVerrier

😀

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Too many adjectives: “large artificial Christmas tree”
They should have gon for the more traditional “four people standing on each others’ shoulders

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

But what if they are umpalumpers?

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Sorry. I forgot, they always say “four grown men standing on each others’ shoulders”
Never mentions how they convinced four grown men to do a circus stunt, a question I, for one, am eager to know the answer to

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Just so we are clear, don’t forget to add half a man in case they are all wearing 70’s platform boots….

Might I suggest we make it Four and half men if we are discussing the appropriate height in people of a 1970’s object….

I hope someone is writing all this down….

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

We should petition George to do an article on standard units of PR measurement, to clear up the issue in future
Hopefully with some conversion tables

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
3 months ago

I’m going to ask the the daft, obvious question, to which you all know the answer, I’m sure… but why not fly it straight in to Yeovilton?

Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

Maybe Yeovilton is not set up to take a C17 Landing and Take Off.

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

It’s 7,500 ft, so surely that’s long enough?

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

Correct, you have just asked the daft, obvious question, 😁😀🙃

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
3 months ago
Reply to  DH

That how I learn!! Thanks.. I remember it as a fast jet airfield, but of course it’s not just length of runway but weight of aircraft. We can’t have ’em sinking in to the asphalt!

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

They have had everything you can imagine land at Yeovilton…defo been C17s been there before…

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

Well I suppose they would then have to fly back, that’s an added flight….where as now they can get the RN to fly home on there own budget,

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Could have added it to Argus when she’s out that way. Good practice for them getting it in and out of the aircraft.
Next year I want to see it drop out mid air, unfold the rotors and land.

Raymond Leake
Raymond Leake
3 months ago

Why dont they just say its 25 feet high …

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
3 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Leake

Don’t be silly. Unless it’s measured in weetabix, eggs or buses we can’t grasp the size