Permali Gloucester Limited say it has been contracted by Leonardo Helicopters to supply a comprehensive ballistic protection solution for the Royal Navy’s new Commando Merlin Mk4 helicopters.

The requirement, valued at over £2 million, will create and sustain skilled composite manufacturing jobs at Permali’s factory in Gloucester, U.K.

The Commando Merlin is an advanced battlefield helicopter designed for amphibious operations, and will be tasked with delivering troops and supplies into conflict zones as well as supporting humanitarian operations.

“Permali’s ballistic solution will protect the crew and passengers against small arms fire. Following earlier work on the Merlin Mk2 & Mk3, as well as the previous Commando Sea King fleet, Permali worked closely with Leonardo Helicopters to define the requirement for the Mk4 and will supply a comprehensive package of ballistic protection panels, attachment hardware and custom storage cases.”

The new Commando Merlin provides a versatile lift capability with exceptional speed and range, and is also equipped with an advanced Defensive Aids Suite in addition to ballistic protection.

Image result for aw101 commando merlin mk4

The firm advises that this  project joins the wide range of ballistic armour solutions that Permali has supplied to armed forces and OEMs around the world for equipment operating in the Land, Sea and Air domains.

Permali’s Director of Special Projects, Nick Baird, said:

“We are delighted to continue our close relationship with Leonardo Helicopters, and are honoured to be entrusted with the protection of British military personnel. The majority of the UK’s Joint Helicopter Command aircraft rely on Permali’s composite ballistic protection expertise, including the Chinook, Puma and Merlin fleets.”

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whlgrubber
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whlgrubber

not new, they are refurbished ex RAF MK 3s with miles on the clock.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Quite.

One of my bugbears, but I’ve ranted too often on these Merlins over the years so did not bother.

Lusty
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Lusty

Shall I get you started on ranting about those in storage?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Ha! Hi Lusty.

No. That is the HM1’s, an altogether different shambles.

This rant concerned the RAF versions and cuts to the RAF and FAA Support Helicopter Force.

Lusty
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Lusty

Oh I’m aware, just stoking the fire a little!

(Hello to you too by the way!)

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

I know you know! 🙂

Steve H
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Steve H

Daniele,
Our helicopter situation would’ve been a lot better had the fantastic Gordon Brown taken £1 Billion out of the rotor wing aircraft budget just before he left number 10. It is a bona fide fact that the RAF and RN fleet air arm have never recovered from that massive hit.. just another thing to thank him for…..

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Correct Steve.

To expand your point, the Puma and the FAA’s Sea King HC4’s were to be replaced with NEW helicopters ( not the “new” ones in this article )

I alluded to Gordon below.

Program was called SABR and around 40 were required. In itself the usual numbers drop as I recall the RN had around 33 HC4’s and the RAF 30 ish Pumas. ( Unsure of exact numbers )

Instead, the Merlin goes to the RN, and the RAF is compensated with 14 Chinooks ( down from 22 )

Love the Chinook myself ( and the Merlin ) but always numbers.

Lusty
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Lusty

If I recall, the RAF originally had 48 Puma. RN 33 HC4’s as you thought.

Steve H
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Steve H

Sorry, “not taken”…

Rob
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Rob

According to Wiki the FAA has 55 Merlins in total. Does anyone know if these are the active air-frames or does it include those in storage?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

That is the lot. 30 Merlin ( of 44 ) were upgraded to HM2 standard and serve in 814, 820, 829 NAS, and 824 NAS as OCU. These are the ASW and Crowsnest cabs that operate on the QEC and in Ships Flights. 25 Merlin ( Ex RAF, once 28, 6 of which were diverted from Denmark when Gordon Brown was caught with his pants down and wallet tucked away ) are those in the article and will furnish 845 and 846 NAS. Wow, if only the 55 were the active ones! The UK military is long, long gone from… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

As Lusty alluded to above there are / were also 8 additional HM1’s, reportedly striped for parts now, and I guess stored at Shawbury?

Many had hoped they could form the nucleus of 849 NAS, as a dedicated ASCS unit saving the precious HM2’s for their main ASW task.

Of the 55 how many are in the front line fleet in the squadrons or in forward or depth maintenance I do not know.

Rob
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Rob

https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/the-royal-navys-merlin-helicopter-fleet-bearing-a-heavy-load/

I was looking to answer my own question and came across this. I believe (although I admit I might be reading it wrong) that there were 42 HM1 variants, with 30 of those converted to HM2 standard.

The 28 HC3s were/are being converted into 25 HC4.

Doesn’t that make 55 in active service with 12 HM1s in storage?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Pretty much what I outlined above, except I had the stored HM1’s at 8.

Maybe someone can clarify? Think Lusty long ago mentioned they were no longer usable.

Lusty
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Lusty

The above posts are pretty much spot on. The FAA currently has 55 Merlins, which includes those in maintenance, deployed, refit or in short term storage(to reduce airframe fatigue) but excludes airframes in ‘deep storage’. 44 Merlins were originally ordered for the RN. Of this, 2 airframes were written off in accidents (that thankfully claimed no lives!) leaving a force of 42. 30 of those were converted to HM2 standard, with a contract option for an extra 8, which was never taken up. As far as I’m aware, those 8 are at MOD Boscombe Down. There were 3 airframes at… Read more »

DaveyB
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DaveyB

I agree, the issue though is the amount of time it takes to re-role a Merlin equipped with Crowsnest back to ASW standard. Not forgetting all the testing required to make sure the kit works. Personally, I think the time taken will be too long, so at least 4 Merlins will be permanently roled for Crowsnest.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Interesting that there is one at Kinloss? Of all places.

Steve H
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Steve H

£2 million for all that? Seems a bit cheap to me, it’s probably going to end up being a couple of standard issue body armour sets duck taped to the inside of the fuselage…..