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Towards the end of the 1970s both the British Royal Navy and the Italian Navy were looking for a replacement for the anti-submarine warfare and utility helicopter, the Sea King. It led to a joint venture between British aircraft manufacturer Westland Aircraft and Italian helicopter manufacturer Agusta which saw the founding of EH Industries in 1979 in order to develop the EH101. The original designation was "EHI 01", but as a result of a transcription error of a handwritten note it became EH101, and the designation stuck. The merger of the two companies resulted in the formation of Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland in 2000 and the designation was ultimately changed to AW101. It is, however, more popularly referred to as "Merlin" by its operators in Great Britain, Norway and Denmark. Various versions of the helicopter are produced for both military and civilian use in around a dozen countries.

Recently the AW101 also had a starring role in the James Bond movie "Skyfall". It was also set to replace Marine One, the United States Marine Corps aircraft which carries the President of the United States, but the project was shelved after excessive costs proved too prohibitive.

But the AW101 can be seen completely free of charge at AIRPOWER16: the British Royal Navy will be showcasing a Merlin Mk 2 as part of the Static Display at Hinterstoisser Air Base.

  • © Jlcwalker

  • © LA Phot Dave Jenkins MOD

  • EH101 Merlin Mk2 © 814 NAS/MOD

  • EH101 Merlin Mk2 © 814 NAS/MOD

  • EH101 Merlin Mk2 © 814 NAS/MOD

  • EH101 Merlin Mk2 © 814 NAS/MOD

© Mark Harkin

Facts & Figures

Manufacturer AgustaWestland
Registration number ZH860
Version Merlin Mk 2 EH101
Owner Royal Navy
Length 22.81 m
Rotor diameter 18.6 m
Height 5.24 m
Max. takeoff weight 14,600 kg
Empty weight 11,100 kg
Max. payload 2,272 kg
Service ceiling 3,048 m / 10,000 ft
Range 667 km / 360 nmi
Maximum speed 282 km/h / 152 KIAS
Powerplant 3 × Rolls-Royce Turbomeca turboshafts
Power 3 x 2,100 hp
Pilots/Crew 1-2 / 3
Display Static