By Staff Writer | May 1, 2007
The United Kingdom is buying six AgustaWestland EH101 Merlins from Denmark to fill an aircraft shortage with its forces in Afghanistan.
It also will proceed with a Boeing-Thales plan to fix eight Royal Air Force special-operations Chinook HC3s, grounded seven years by a dispute over certification of their avionics software.
Late last year, the outgoing commander of U.K. forces in southern Afghanistan called for extra helicopters "as a priority" to allow troops to press the fight against Taliban insurgents.
The U.K. Defence Ministry has hired AgustaWestland in Yeovil to modify the six EH101s, which were delivered to the Royal Danish Air Force over the last year, to the British configuration. They will be designated EH101 Merlin HC Mk.3As when they enter service with the RAF later this year. The aircraft will be also equipped with British Experimental Rotor Program (BERP) 4 technology main-rotor blades, designed to provide further improved performance. The Merlin Mk.3As will be the first helicopters equipped with these blades, developed jointly by AgustaWestland and the U.K. defense ministry.
The U. K. will buy six replacement EH101s for Denmark.