A Merlin Mk3 helicopter arrives at Lielvarde Air Force Base, Latvia in support of Exercise ARRCADE FUSION 15.
(NATO Photo / WO2 Dan Harmer GBR Army / Released)
A detachment of Merlin Mk3
helicopters, aircrew, engineers and support staff from 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS)
of the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS)
Yeovilton in Somerset, UK have deployed to Lielvarde AFB in Latvia in support
of Ex Arrcade Fusion 15.
detachment will provide a Support Flight capability for the Allied
Rapid Reaction Corps across Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia throughout the
duration of Ex Arrcade Fusion,” said squadron commander Lt. Cdr. Richard
”Anytime we get the chance to support
the Army and NATO like this, we will,” he said.
846 NAS was established in April 1943 at the Naval Air
Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island, USA during WW2 and has seen operational
service in Borneo, the Falklands War,
the first Gulf War, Northern Ireland, Former Yugoslavia, Iraq and most
Following a brief period of
stand down when the squadron converted from the Sea King Mk4 helicopter to the
Merlin Mk3 helicopter, the squadron stood up on 1 October 2014 at RAF Benson
before relocating to their spiritual home of RNAS Yeovilton in March 2015. 846 NAS has supported exercises both at sea and by land in the UK, Norway,
Kenya, Morocco, Jordan and the USA and now, the Baltic States.
Despite the ability to support operational and exercise
tasking on land, 846 NAS remains primarily an amphibious assault squadron,
providing aviation lift to 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, delivering troops
from ship to shore. 846 NAS is trained and maintained at Very High Readiness
(VHR) to deploy to any environment world-wide within a very short period.
operate the Merlin Mk3. The Merlin Mk3 is based on the Augusta Westland AW101
and is an advanced, medium support helicopters designed to operate in the most
demanding environments. It is an all-weather, day and night, multi-role helicopter used in both
tactical and strategic operational roles. Its diverse range of cargo carried
internally or underslung can include artillery, Land Rovers or light-strike
vehicles and more than five tonnes of freight. The aircraft carries an impressive
defensive-aids suite and can be fitted with up to 5 General Purpose Machine
Guns (GPMGs). Navigation at night is enhanced by display night-vision goggles
and by the aircraft’s multi-function turret, with forward-looking infrared. To
increase the aircraft’s range, the Merlin can be equipped with extended range
fuel tanks. The spacious cabin can 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.
The Merlin Mk3 will shortly undergo a multi-million pound
upgrade to the Mk4 standard. The upgrade
will update the aircraft avionics, fit a folding main rotor head and tail and
strengthen the undercarriage to allow the aircraft to operate at sea in the
amphibious assault role, from the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers
of the Royal Navy.
Merlin Mk3 Key Facts
Aircrew: 4 (2 x Pilots, 2 x Aircrewmen)
Max Speed: 167 Kts
Capacity: 24 x Combat Troops, 16 x Stretchers
Endurance: 3 Hours (without extended range tanks)
Additional notes for the Editor:
HQ ARRC is a
NATO Rapid Deployment Corps headquarters, founded in 1992 in Germany, and
headquartered in Gloucestershire since August 2010.
HQ ARRC’s ‘framework nation’ is the United Kingdom, comprising approximately 60
percent of the overall staff, the ARRC is fully multinational in nature and
organization, with 18 NATO and Non-NATO nations contributing the remaining
complement of personnel (Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States). Including the UK framework
nation, the ARRC consists of 19 participating countries as of October 2015.
Croatia and New Zealand plan to join the ARRC before the end of the year.
ARRC Media Relations Officer
Exercise AF 15 Main
Press Desk, Latvia: +371 6500 2757/58 or +371 2565 8499
Exercise AF 15 Press
Desk, Lithuania: +37 052113959 or +371 2572