AgustaWestland’s Through-Life Support for UK Merlin Helis
Thales’ 2011-2016 IMOS sub-contract. (April 11/11)
The United Kingdom has sustained extensive efforts to strike long-term, through-life support contracts for various weapons systems under a “contracting for availability” (rather than for maintenance hours) framework. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) keeps driving the point home with new contracts that encompass more and more of their military.
The Royal Air Force currently flies 28 AW101 Merlin HC3 medium helicopters that work with the army, whilst the Royal Navy’s 42 soon-to-be upgraded AW101 Merlin Mk1s are used for both Anti-Submarine warfare and Anti-Surface warfare. This single 25-year contract covers both helicopter types…
The IMOS contract is a single 25 year contract, with 5 year price breakpoints, to provide through-life support for the MoD EH101 Merlin fleet to its planned out of service dates of 2029 (Royal Navy Mk1) 2030 (RAF Mk3).
AgustaWestland will provide an extensive aircraft availability service with a Main Support Base at RNAS Culdrose. Responsibilities will include repair and overhaul, and the management of the complete Merlin supply chain. To that end, they have partnered with Total Support Services (an alliance between SELEX Galileo, Thales UK, GE and the UK MoD Defence Support Group), to support air vehicle avionics, and with Lockheed Martin to provide support for the Royal Navy’s AW101 Merlin mission system and the Merlin Training System at RNAS Culdrose.
When the initial 2006 announcement was made, Minister for the Armed Forces Adam Ingram said:
“Until now MoD has operated separate support systems for the two different types of Merlin aircraft. This was the best approach when introducing both helicopters into service, but not the optimum way to manage support in the long-term. This new contract will incentivise industry to increase the availability of Merlin helicopters to the Front Line Commands, while saving the MoD and UK taxpayers around GBP 1 billion in support costs over the next 25 years. These arrangements will also sustain up to 1,200 jobs, many of which are at AgustaWestland in Yeovil. This through-life approach to supporting operations is a good example of MoD’s recently announced Defence Industrial Strategy in action.”
The EH101 naval helicopter is in service with the Italian Navy, British Royal Navy, and the Canadian armed forces, and has been ordered by the armed forces of Algeria (6), Japan (14), Denmark (14) and Portugal (12). VIP versions are also flying, most notably in India. A modified US101 variant was even set to serve as the new “Marine One” US Presidential helicopter until that program was canceled; and the US101 was one of the competitors in the USA’s $8-10 billion CSAR-X combat search and rescue helicopter program before that program, too, was canceled.
Contracts & Key Events
April 11/11: Thales announces a renewed contract with Lockheed Martin UK for the next phase of IMOS, from 2011-2016. The undisclosed contract continues the availability-based support package for the Merlin Mk1 and Mk2’s acoustic sub-system: the popular, multi-platform Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters (FLASH) Active Dipping Sonar, and the parallel sonics sub-system for sonobuoy processing.
Thales will support the fleet by providing service management, supply support, technical support and equipment performance analysis. The will also replace the sonobuoy-related sonics sub-system with a phased introduction of a new Thales acoustic sub-system, including a new common acoustic processor incorporating the latest processing technology. That work will be done under the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme.
Jan 17/11: AgustaWestland signs a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence, covering the 2nd IMOS 5-year period within the 25-year contract. The 2011-2016 segment is valued at approximately GBP 570 million, currently about $905 million.
The IMOS contract currently sustains over 1,000 jobs, many of which are located at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil, and at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall where the Merlin Depth Maintenance Facility and the Royal Navy’s Merlin Training System are located. AgustaWestland.
Jan 10/11: AgustaWestland announces that Chris Ferguson from the IMOS support team, and Mike Sheppard from the Field service department, were awarded Afghanistan campaign medals by the UK MoD. Their work at Camp Bastion in Helmland from December 2009 – February 2010 included a range of technical advice, and assistance with the installation of ballistic protection modifications that AgustaWestland had rapidly developed under an Urgent Operational Requirement.
Oct 25/10: Lockheed Martin UK – Integrated Systems and AgustaWestland announce today that MCSP01, the first upgraded Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 helicopter, has performed a successful maiden flight at the AgustaWestland facility in Yeovil, UK. It marks the start of an intensive flight-test program for the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP), which will upgrade 30 Royal Navy Merlin Mk1 helicopters. See “$2 Bn for British EH101 Merlin Multi-Role Upgrades” for more details.
Four trials aircraft will be dedicated to test and evaluation of the new aircraft, avionics and mission systems at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil site through to late 2011. The helicopters will then transfer to QinetiQ at Boscombe Down to perform further mission system performance evaluation and Release to Service trials. Aircraft conversion will be undertaken at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility, with full rate production in early 2012. The Merlin Mk2 is scheduled to enter service in 2013, and achieve Full Operational Capability in 2014. Lockheed Martin UK.
March 6/06: The MoD awards EH101 manufacturer AgustaWestland a GBP 450 million ($656 million at current rates) Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract under a non-competitive, partnering contract framework.
Although the AW101 is an AgustaWestland product, Lockheed Martin UK was awarded the original Merlin Mk1 contract for 44 Navy ASW/ASuW helicopters in 1991, with AgustaWestland acting as sub-prime. Lockheed Martin UK is also one of AgustaWestland’s strategic partners providing support and training services under the IMOS through-life maintenance program. See UK MoD release.
- DID – Britain’s Future Contracting for Availability Approach
- AgustaWestland – AW101. Renamed from the EH101 in 2007.
- Royal Air Force – Merlin HC3
- Army Technology – AW101 (EH101) Transport Helicopter, Italy / UK
- Royal Navy – Merlin ASW
- Lockheed Martin UK – Merlin HM MK1 (Merlin)
- Naval Technology – Merlin ASW / Transport Helicopter, United Kingdom
- DID – $2 Bn for British EH101 Merlin Multi-Role Upgrades