One of the newer additions to Joint Helicopter Command, having entered service in 2003, the Merlin - as the UK military calls its versions of what was the EH Industries EH101, now the AgustaWestland AW101 - has more than proved its worth in operational theatres. So valuable was it that, following on from the initial Merlin HC3s that came into use with No 28 Squadron, a second batch had to be diverted from an order for the type by Denmark, these HC3A models allowing the re-formation of No 78 Squadron. Both are stationed at RAF Benson. This is a medium transport helicopter, able to perform the whole gamut of support tasks - troop and cargo transport, casualty evacuation and more. The RAF Merlin fleet will be transferred to the Royal Navy so as to replace its Sea King HC4 Commando helicopters. The Navy already flies maritime versions of the Merlin.
Photo credit: Ben Dunnell