Both companies have entered into contracts worth GPB 1.8 million. Their specialists will evaluate the project and identify possibilities for replacing outdated structural components with new equivalents. Additionally, the work will consist of assessing the possibility of extending the operational life of the helicopters operated by the Royal Navy until 2040.
The agreement covers both the Mk2 and Mk4/4a variants.
The Royal Navy currently operates around 55 Leonardo AW101 Merlin helicopters, with 30 of them being of the Mk2 variant (shipborne, primarily used for anti-submarine warfare) and 25 being transport-assault Mk4/4a variants (inherited from the Royal Air Force and modernized in recent years to maximize their utilization on amphibious and aviation vessels).
The initiation of these efforts serves as another signal of the actual extension of the effective operational life of the helicopters. The decision to extend the service life was made by the British Ministry of Defence in June 2021. Previously, the schedule had set the beginning of retirement for 2029 (Mk2).