Merlin HM Mk1


Lockheed Martin UK - Integrated Systems successfully introduced the Royal Navy's latest multi-mission maritime helicopter in 1999: The Merlin HM Mk1.

The introduction of Merlin has significantly enhanced the UK’s maritime operational capability and provides the Royal Navy with a state-of-the-art, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability. Due to the complexity of its operational role, and the extremes of its operating environment, the technical requirements for Merlin are demanding, such as operating from Type-23 frigates without the need for "flying off" manoeuvres, even in high sea states.

Merlin conducts its primary role by processing mission critical data received from the aircraft’s latest-generation systems and sensors, thus providing the crew of three with the appropriate situational awareness data to command the battlespace and select the appropriate weapons systems and counter-measures. Though primarily designed for ‘blue water’ operations, Merlin also has the ability to operate in the littoral ‘brown water’ environment. In addition to the primary role of Anti-Submarine Warfare, Merlin has demonstrated capabilities in search and rescue, troop transport, vertical replenishment and casualty evacuation.

As prime contractor for the Merlin, Lockheed Martin has demonstrated core strengths in Systems Integration and Prime Contract management within the UK defence sector. While leading the design, development, production and test of the Merlin, Lockheed Martin has managed a team of internationally renowned subcontractors which includes AgustaWestland for the manufacture of the EH 101 airframe. The RTM 322 engines are the result of Anglo-French co-operation between Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca, whilst the sonar and radar is provided by Thales and BAE Systems respectively. The Merlin Training System (aircrew and maintenance trainers) was supplied by CAE Electronics of Montreal; while a range of UK companies contribute to the production of the on-board systems and the Integrated Logistic Support.

Merlin Programme – Key Events
Royal Navy (RN) interest in the Merlin originally stemmed from the requirement to replace the Sea King and Lynx anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters operating from RN surface combatant vessels. Having selected the EH 101 type to replace these aircraft the following key events mark the development of Merlin:

IBM Federal Systems - later to become Loral, which was subsequently purchased by Lockheed Martin - was selected to prime contract manage the 44-aircraft Merlin HM Mk1 programme.

First production flight of RN 01 (ZH822).

Formal Roll-Out ceremony at the Westland Helicopters Yeovil production facility.

First flight of Merlin with full mission avionics.

Operational performance acceptance procedure trials at the Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas. The trials which tested the submarine fighting capability of the Merlin system was highly successful and was completed in record time.

700M Squadron formed at Merlin’s main operating base at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall. This period also saw the first aircraft acceptance.

In Service Date (ISD) achieved on schedule and within budget; marked by the delivery of the 12th aircraft.

A new squadron was commissioned for Merlin, 824 Naval Air Squadron. With its complement of eight aircraft, 824 Squadron was established to train the pilots, observers, aircrewmen and engineers on the helicopter.

The rededication of 814 Squadron provided the first front-line squadron for deployment on HMS Ark Royal.

Production complete and final delivery of all 44 aircraft achieved.

First operational deployment in support of Operation Telic. Four helicopters were embarked on RFA Fort Victoria and flew 800 hours with 1,650 deck landings. Only one sortie was lost to unserviceability.

Lockheed Martin UK selected as preferred contractor on a two year programme to assess possible upgrades to the Merlin HM Mk1 helicopters.

Rededication of 820 Naval Air Squadron, the second of the carrier capable unit, and the completion of the first Merlin Aircrew Training (Ab Initio) course, marking a significant step in the development of Merlin operational capability.

25-year Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme awarded to Lockheed Martin UK from Ministry of Defence.
25-year Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract awarded to Lockheed Martin UK by AgustaWestland

Merlin Mk1 achieved Full Operational Capability.

700M Naval Air Squadron - Intensive Flying Trials squadron decommissioned.

Merlin Mk1 achieved 10 years in service with Royal Navy.

General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue, selected the Merlin Project Team and Industry Partners for a Chief of Defence Material (CDM) Commendation.

10 year anniversary front line operations.

Lockheed Martin UK - Integrated Systems - The Value Add Factor

When Lockheed Martin UK was awarded the £2.2 billion Prime Contract for Merlin in 1991, it was the UK’s largest and most sophisticated systems integration project to date. Moreover, Lockheed Martin were appointed after the project had been running for nearly 10 years and assumed the management, risk and responsibility for the existing development work and contracts for the nine major mission systems.

In December 2002 a major milestone was achieved with the delivery to the Navy of the 44th and final Merlin helicopter on schedule and on budget with the Royal Navy describing the aircrafts’ capabilities as ‘awesome’.

Even now the Merlin project ranks in the UK’s top systems integration projects and one of the most successful examples of complex prime contract programme management.

The scale of this high integrity systems integration achievement is significant; as the following facts illustrate: Lockheed Martin had to agree, technically manage and demonstrate more than 2,700 individual, top-level system requirements to the customer. In order to comply with these overall requirements, our system engineering process created ten critical sub-system specifications with an additional 10,500 derived requirements for sub-contractors to satisfy.

Since the start of the programme we have managed 3044 customer and sub-contractor requirement changes and a further 1,235 improvements to subsystem interfaces.

·         Four million lines of real-time, high-integrity, embedded computer code was commissioned, developed and integrated into the Merlin system. Each helicopter has more than 200 microprocessors of 35 different specialist types, from multiple suppliers, all fully integrated and operated by just two people.

·         The number of different processors being determined by having to integrate legacy systems resulting from existing development work or contracts.

·         Lockheed Martin managed 13 major sub-contractors with more than a quarter of these being traditional competitors in overlapping markets. In addition, we have managed more than 100 2nd tier suppliers and have supervised many more in lower tiers.

·         Nearly a quarter of the major sub-contractors were awarded contracts after competitive tender, with the balance being directed suppliers from the UK MOD, but with Lockheed Martin able to negotiate on price.

·         More than 25 individual mission-critical sub-systems have been integrated into the aircraft.

·         It took approximately 75 man years to develop and test the integrated avionic and mission system Human System Interface.

·         The training system is a mini university in itself, and is fully integrated into the main programme.

·         It has a central computer-based learning centre offering different courses at any one time. Distance learning can also be achieved and certified through web-based browsers or CD-ROMs.

The success of the Merlin programme demonstrates that Lockheed Martin is capable of blending a rare combination of knowledge, management and technical skills to provide essentially the brain and spinal cord of a technically complex defence programme. But rather than just consult at arm’s length, Lockheed Martin has demonstrated its ‘Value Add Factor’ through efficient risk management and prime contract capability, while also providing impartial advice, options and solutions for future Merlin capability.