The Merlin HC3 Helicopter is operated by No 28(AC) Squadron at RAF Benson and is the first of
a new generation of advanced, medium support-helicopters for the RAF. It is an all-weather, day
and night, multi-role helicopter used in both tactical and strategic operational roles. The aircraft carries an impressive defensive-aids suite, which includes a Radar and Laser Warning Receiver, Missile Approach Warners and Directional Infrared Counter Measures equipment, all integrated with an automatic chaff and flare dispensing system. This is one of the most comprehensive defensive-aids suites fitted to any helicopter in the world.
To ensure accurate navigation anywhere on the globe, the aircraft’s management computers take data
from its laser-gyro, inertial-navigation platform and its doppler system and from air data sources, and combine the information with precise position data received from Global Positioning System satellites. Navigation at night is enhanced by the crew’s use of night vision goggles and by the aircraft’s multi-function turret, which can be fitted with forward-looking Infrared radar. To increase the aircraft’s range, the Merlin Helicopter is equipped with extended-range fuel tanks and is capable of air refuelling. Further range can be achieved by shutting down the third engine during the cruising phase of flight. It is also fitted with an active vibration-damping system, which reduces the level of noise and vibration inside the cabin to a level no greater than that of a turboprop aircraft. As a result, crew fatigue is much reduced during long transits and airframe life is increased.
The Merlin Helicopter is able to carry a diverse range of bulky cargo, either internally or under-slung. Cargo can include artillery, Landrovers or light-strike vehicles and over five tonnes of freight. The spacious cabin can also accommodate up to 24 fully equipped combat troops and, when required, will convert to carry 16 stretchers for casualty evacuation or during humanitarian and disaster relief operations. Designed to operate away from base workshops and in difficult terrain, the Merlin Helicopter has state-of-the-art support technology and incorporates aircraft health-and-usage diagnostics and a self-test capability for ease of maintenance. The Merlin Helicopter is armed with two general purpose machine guns converted for the air role, although there is provision for additional weaponry to be fitted at a later date.
Merlin HC3 Helicopter Specifications
Powerplant: Three Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM 322 turbines
Thrust: 2263shp each
Length: 22.8m (74ft 9ins)
Fuselage length: 19.43m (63ft 9ins)
Height: 6.62m (21ft 9ins)
Rotor diameter: 18.6m (61ft 1ins)
Max T/O weight: 14,600kg (32,120lbs)
Endurance: 4 hrs (600nmls) internal tanks.
Max airspeed: l67kts (192mph)
Max altitude: 15,000ft