Two Merlin helicopters joined frigates HMS Northumberland and Westminster as part of NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise off Norway.

Their mission say the MoD, was to ‘protect’ a task group of more than half a dozen ships, notably including the USS Iwo Jima, from submarine attack.

Alongside their anti-submarine role, the Royal Navy say that the Merlins have been called upon as general “buses of the sky”, flying personnel and kit around the numerous ships in the NATO task group, such as the force’s flagship, American assault ship USS Iwo Jima.

“It is really good to prove our ability to operate with our closest allies and Exercise Trident Juncture has done just that, showing that we can operate from a foreign amphibious ship such as the Iwo Jima,” said Lt Ross Wiltshire, one of Northumberland’s two Merlin pilots.

“Landing on such a big flight deck, after flying from the Royal Navy’s smallest, was quite a contrast but is definitely a career highlight for me.”

Commander Sarah Birchett, 814’s Commanding Officer, said:

“It’s provided an excellent opportunity for the two ships’ flights to practise their seagoing skills – both airborne and as fully-involved members of the ships’ company; from conducting fire-fighting and damage control to racing to get the helicopters airborne to counter the underwater threat, all whilst working alongside our NATO allies. And all of this done within the beautiful, but cold, waters of the glorious Norwegian coastline.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Another demonstration on just how good the Merlin is.

    The UK needs to order another batch of these to bring our helicopter numbers up to where they really need to be. Realistically the uk should be operating a 4 helicopter force and it could have been 3 with even better planning (Chinook, Merlin, Apache), as I think more apaches and Merlins would be better than the wildcat fleet.

    Price wise the merlin is a bit of bargain as well for what it is and can do

  2. Here’s hoping the reference to ASW in the recent £1B increase in defence spending is for more Merlins. Top drawer piece of kit.

  3. The navy’s wildcats should have had dipping sonars installed to give our ASW capability even more platforms, we should make the most of what platforms we do have. Like the type45 for e.g could have had a land atack capability and anti ballistic missile defence also but they didn’t bother, I get they need to save money but if Britain wants to remain a global power we need to spend more, lots of nations look up to Britain and our millitary. And You would think cutting the 45s numbers from 12 to 6 would have meant the 6 we do have would have all the bells and whistles because of the savings not having to building the other 6 destroyers.

  4. Does anyone know for definite that dipping sonar is not used on the Rn wildcat? if not I think it is a major misjudgment by the RN – surely it isn’t that expensive. For me both aircraft should have proper sonobuoy dispensers. I can’t quite understand as to why the merlin (and typhoons for that matter) aren’t given the marte ashm as integration has already been undertaken and that there are doubts around harpoon’s effectiveness. I also feel that the merlin although excellent suffers from a lack of vision if it was an American helicopter it would have extended fuel tanks, more powerful engines and better armament, terrain especially for the land based version. I can’t help but think it doesn’t help it’s export potential. Maybe it could have fulfilled the sf requirement rather than turning to chinooks again. I am definitely with cam on the type 45 these are capital ships and look woeful against an arleigh Burke. The RN also need asroc/equal indigenous solution using stingray, helicopters go unserviceable are effected by weather etc. Meaning RN vessels are left defenceless against submarines in this situation

    • Here you go. A view of naval Wildcat from the ROK.
      “According to the ROK Navy, the AESA radar and electro-optic thermal sensor are capable of detecting up to 200 miles (360 km). It is the first time Korea naval aviation that an aircraft ype is equipped with such long-range precision monitoring capability.

      Wildcats can operate for more than three hours if equipped with the FLASH dipping sonar alone, two hours if equipped with the dipping sonar and a single “Blue Shark” torpedo, and an hour or more when the dipping sonar and two torpedoes are fitted. According to a ROK naval officer “The naval helicopters such as Wildcat or Lynx can conduct anti-submarine operations in cooperation with the surface vessel and the maritime patrol aircraft (P-3),” he said. “Depending on the situation”

      “The AW-159’s new maritime helicopter is an excellent helicopter with advanced detection equipment and attack weapons against enemy submarines and improved flight capabilities,” said Kwak Han-jung, commander of the Wildcat program. “am sure that the enemy who provoke us anywhere in the water will be dealt with on the spot” .

      Happy to be corrected on this but I believe Merlin has an order of magnitude more endurance, range and ASW payload than Wildcat so is the RN platform of choice for ASW work. As I understand it the RN views Wildcat as primarily a fast attack helo against surface threats up to corvette size albeit with the ability to prosecute a submarine it is vectored onto having been detected by the ships active bow sonar.

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