Flying Tigers bring home Merlin Mk1
After 19 months away 814 Naval Air Squadron (The Flying Tigers) have flown their last mission in the Middle East and are preparing to return home to Culdrose, upgrading their Merlin Mk 1 to Merlin Mk 2 helicopters.
Having flown hundreds of sorties since deploying to the Middle East in February 2013 the trusty Merlin Mk 1 is being replaced by the more advanced Merlin Mk 2 with its improved avionics and touch screen technology.
“The Squadron has had an incredibly successful tour in the Middle East, providing support to the Royal Navy’s counter-narcotics and wider maritime security operations”, said Commander Stuart Finn, Commanding Officer of 814 Naval Air Squadron.
“The men and women of the Squadron can be proud of the contribution they’ve made, helping to ensure that those who use the sea do so for legal purposes only.”
814 NAS began Merlin Mk 1 operations with in October 2001, operating the aircraft have been for over 13 years. It replaced Sea Kings which were flown on the Sqn since 1973.
The upgrade to the Augusta-Westland Merlin Mk 2 marks a step change in the Royal Navy’s maritime security capability with the addition of advanced avionics and tactical mission systems, including improved Radar and Sonar processing and High Definition touch screen technology.
The Squadron’s transition to the Merlin Mk 2, in February 2015, marks the culmination of a process to upgrade all of the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin helicopters, ensuring that the Royal Navy can continue to locate and track ships and submarines from sea.
Commander Finn added: “Whilst we close a chapter on the hugely successful Merlin Mk 1 and bid a sad farewell to our aircraft, we are looking forward to writing a new chapter with the Mk 2.
"The ability for our aviators and engineers to remain at the forefront of complex maritime patrol operations remains assured.”
Also based at Culdrose, 820 NAS are in the process of taking over the reins in the Middle East, flying their newly upgraded Merlin Mk 2 helicopters to continue meet the same high standard of support to the Royal Navy that has been provided by 814 Squadron.