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Merlin Helicopters

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) in-service and (b) operational delivery dates are of each of the six Merlin helicopters procured from Denmark. (226911)

The Merlin helicopters acquired from Denmark are known as Merlin Mk3a, when converted.

The first Merlin Mk3a was delivered to 78 Squadron on 22 January 2008 and the second on 31 January. The initial Release to Service (flight clearance) was signed on 21 January this year. Since then, aircraft have been incrementally modified to keep a maximum number available to the forward fleet. An Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was agreed by Joint Helicopter Command on 31 March for two aircraft. By 30 July, five aircraft had been delivered to RAF Benson for tasking. The sixth helicopter will be returned to RAF Benson next month, following completion of specialist communications testing which is normal for a new class of aircraft.