[holding answer 17 July 2006]: There are 12 Royal Navy Merlin Mkl helicopters not currently included in the Lockheed Martin upgrade programme (known as the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme). A decision is currently expected to be made in late 2008 as to whether to add 8 of these 12 to the programme. Should a decision be taken not to add these aircraft to the programme they would remain in the RN Merlin fleet and a decision would be taken on their out-of-service date around 2015. Inclusion in the programme would extend their out-of-service date to 2029.
There are no plans to add the other four RN Merlin Mkl helicopters to the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme. These are currently used as trials aircraft either based at Agusta Westland Ltd. at Yeovil, Somerset or at RNAS Culdrose. A decision on the out-of-service date of these four aircraft is also expected to be taken around 2015.