- Newest support helicopter in the RAF inventory
- Can carry up to 24 fully-equipped troops
The Merlin HC3 is the first of the next generation of medium support helicopters for the RAF. RAF Benson is currently home to 22 Mark 3 and 6 Mark 3a Merlin helicopters, shared between 28 (AC) and 78 Squadrons.
The aircraft can be armed with two general purpose machine guns mounted in port and starboard cabin windows, and can be equipped with a wide variety of role equipment, including a rescue hoist and a roller floor to assist loading cargo via the rear ramp.
Three Rolls-Royce / Turbomeca RTM-322 turbines
74ft 10in (22.81m)
Normally crewed by one pilot, one navigator, or two pilots, and two crewmen and up to 24 combat-equipped troops.
The Merlin will be the first British military helicopter which can be equipped with an air-to-air refuelling probe to greatly increase the aircraft's range and reduce deployment times. An active vibration damping system reduces the level of noise and vibration inside the cabin to a similar level to turboprop aircraft, reducing crew and passenger fatigue and increasing airframe life.
Merlins of No 28 Squadron deployed on their first operational tour - to the Balkans in support of UN Forces - in the Spring of 2003. In 2008, 28 Squadron was joined by 78 Squadron to form the Merlin Force.
- Support Helicopter (SH). The movement of troops, weapons, ammunition and support stores in and around the battlefield.
- Casualty Evacuation (Casevac). Removal of casualties and medical emergencies from forward areas.