|Royal Navy Merlin Mark 2. Photo: Royal Navy|
[Avionics Today 05-29-2015] Lockheed Martin, which act as the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense’s prime contractor for the Merlin helicopter, has selected a new generation of the Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus mission system to be fitted to specially adapted Merlins. The new system will provide the Navy with an Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASAC) capability.
The fleet of Merlin helicopters will replace the Royal Navy’s outgoing Sea King Mark 7 ASAC force, which is fitted with an earlier version of the Searchwater and Cerberus systems. The new capability will enter operational service in 2018 when the last of the Sea King ASaC helicopters are retired.
Thales’ solution looks to maximize the re-use of the Ministry of Defense’s existing investment in equipment, training and expertise by upgrading, updating and adapting a battle-proven capability, ahead of operational timescales. Improvements to the Royal Navy’s new system include enhanced performance and data processing, as well as the addition of new modes to the multi-mission radar. An improved human-machine interface, reduced weight and built-in training features have all been designed to future proof the system. It will also be capable of being fitted to both rotary and fixed-wing platforms.