Merlin HM2 – Plus £30m

Something in this weeks contract news caught my eye.

We know the Royal Navy Merlin fleet is getting an upgrade to HM2 standard and I have commented before that this did not include an electro optical turret or DAS,

Lockheed Martin have been awarded a contract extension to address the gaps

The Merlin Helicopter is currently undergoing a major upgrade to introduce a new mission system. The contract for this programme was awarded to Lockheed Martin (UK) in 2005 for the delivery of Merlin Mk2 helicopters through modification to the existing Merlin Mk1 fleet. Part of the contracted scope is the introduction of a fully integrated camera system and a defensive aids suite into the existing complex mission system design but installed on a very limited proportion of the fleet. The object of this contract amendment is to increase the number of aircraft equipped with defensive aids, to be completed concurrently with the existing upgrade, and to include the systems in the aircraft training simulators.

£30m please, on top of the £750m for the 30 airframe upgrade

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14 Responses

  1. “I have commented before that this did not include an electro optical turret or DAS,…Lockheed Martin have been awarded a contract extension to address the gaps” – The breadth of TD’s influence can at times be quite breathtaking.

  2. The problem that legislators on both sides of the Atlantic have is that they don’t understand that by cutting total buys or by slowing down acquisition of systems THEY are the ones driving up unit costs, e.g. reducing the number of F-22 Raptors to 187 made it the most expensive aircraft flying ever. With the original plan to build 750 of them, the unit price would be much lower, and we’d have enough of them to be able to retire older systems. And the penny-wise pound-foolish actions of the UK has left y’all with no aircraft carrier-capable planes, let alone any air combat/aircraft carrier-capable planes.

  3. You’ve got to admit our rotor craft procurement policies of the last couple of decades have got a lot to be desired in terms of value for money and vision. £26m per airframe plus the initial purchase cost ( I know sunk costs and all that ) because the Andrew/MOD could not come up with a plan to replace the Seakings in one go. Lets no forget the cost a Wildcat is costing when we upgraded 22 Lynx mk9 to mk9a for less than £100m to get pretty much the same capability.

  4. @DavisNiven, we could have upgraded the RN’s Mk 8’s at the same time and saved a packet!

  5. @Ace Rimmer,

    I know, and factor in 30 odd green wildcats are replacing roughly a hundred Lynx for the Army when we could have just used the 22 MK9a. I don’t know how many Wildcat are replacing the Lynx mk 8 but I’d be surprised if it’s one for one. After all the upgrade included new comms, DAS and the same engines etc as the Wildcat.

    We could probably have used the spare money to put a folding rotor mechanism on a few Chinooks to help with amphibious operationss.

  6. The price of updating the RN Merlin’s and transferring over the RAF ones is indeed ridiculous and i really struggle to understand where the money is being spent. The one thing i’d add is that whilst we all know the more units you buy/overhaul the lower the overall price drops their isn’t a justifiable reason for why the RN in current size and shape should have more than 25-30 lifters and 30-40 ASW/AEW platforms.

    Yes a few more here and there would have been nice (that especially goes for the 8 HM1 left in storage) but lower costs per unit isn’t a good enough reason by itself to invest in larger fleets, not if the requirement isn’t there.

    The MOD (not the RAF or RN in isolation) should have sought to replace the Puma, Sea King ASW, Sea King AEW and Sea King Commando with one air-frame and 100+ ordered way back in the 1990s, that could have been the best way to have kept the costs down (that’s if it worked!). Bit late now though.

  7. Challenger – Nicely said.

    While I don’t think a single airframe could of replaced all of the Pumas and Sea Kings (not to mention Wessex’s!)*, I have wondered whether some bright spark couldn’t have created a 2/3s size version of Merlin, in order to give you two platforms, sharing many similar components, that could fulfill all of our medium roles (and maybe some of the lighter ones as well?).

    Take a Merlin, remove one engine and shrink the rotor blades; Keep the cockpit exactly the same but reduce the cabin to suit carrying 20 odd bods. Loose the ramp and redesign the tail (folding of course) to suit. Lets call it the Kestrel and sell combos of them to everyone we can.

    (* Merlin’s too big to get into the sort of spots that Puma can, and a Puma sized platform doesn’t have the performance to do match Merlin for ASW/AEW missions.)

    …. Christ this is exactly the sort of thing I think of marking people down for.

  8. TED – Yeah, it is really I suppose, but we would of had in service for 10+ years by now, and we would of had a decent workshare.

    I’m happy we didn’t end sticking with the NH90 – Merlin and Wildcat are both better platforms (and programmes by the sounds of it).

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