Merlin HM1 / HC3
RAF Merlin HC3
The Merlin is a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101 (previoulsy known as the EH101), a medium-lift helicopter used by several militaries around the world. This page features the Merlin HM1 and HC3/HC3a used by the British Royal Navy and Royal Air Force respectively.
The HM1 variant of the Merlin is used by the Royal Navy in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and for general maritime operations. The HM1 carries a highly sophisticated suite of avionics including a powerful search radar, an active dipping sonar, sonobuoys, FLIR, antennae for detecting electronic signals, all integrated into a Common Control Unit processor.
The Merlin HM1 can be fitted with an array of weapons systems for engaging surface or underwater targets. These systems include Stingray torpedoes, depth-charges and GPMG belt-fed machine guns mounted in the cabin.
Merlin HC3 / HC3a
Operated by No 28 and No 78 Squadrons of the Royal Air Force, the HC3 and HC3a Merlins are mostly used for transporting troops and equipment. They are also used for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations and Special Operations support. Unlike the HM1, the RAF Merlins feature a rear ramp for the quick loading / unloading of men and supplies. It also lacks the ASW-related avionics.
The Merlin HC3 can carry 30 fully-equipped soldiers or 16 litters or similar-sized loads. It has a electronics countermeasures (ECM) suite, a night-vision-compatible cockpit and a FLIR pod in the chin (HC3a).
Merlin HM1 Specifications
Merlin HM 1 FEATURES
RAF Merlins can mount GPMG machine guns in the cabin doors and rear ramp.
A RAF crew member mans a 7.62mmx51mm L7A2 GPMG mounted on the rear ramp of a RAF Merlin HC3
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Gustavo Olgiati/Released
Royal Marines fast-rope from a Royal Navy Merlin HM1. The Royal Navy uses the Merlin HM1 in counter piracy and maritime patrol operations. Aside from Navy/ Royal Marines boarding parties, the Merlin can also act as a platform for a Maritime Sniper Team (MST) which provides top-cover for maritime operations.
U.S. Navy photo by Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Alexis M. Diaz) (Released)