Merlin force restructured

Tiger striped Merlin HM2 ZH860 captured performing a confined area landing in Cornwall; 814 NAS is a member of the NATO Tiger association.
Ian Harding

The Royal Navy’s Merlin HM2 force based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been restructured from March 28, 2018, to ensure delivery of its key role in the UK’s Carrier Strike Group. Restructuring involved the decommissioning of 829 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and transfer of its aircraft and personnel to 814 NAS. Consequently, the Merlin HM2 force now comprises 814 and 820 NAS, the frontline units, and training unit 824 NAS. Commander Mike Currie, Head of the Merlin Helicopter Force at RNAS Culdrose, said: “With several key roles to deliver, including antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare, our Merlin HM2 is integral to the Maritime Task Group and an essential part of Carrier Strike. The addition of airborne surveillance and control, through the Crowsnest system in the future, will increase the capability of this very capable airframe.”

At the end of its most recent operational period, 829’s fourth incarnation, the unit traces its history back more than 70 years. Recommissioned in October 2004, the squadron spent the past 14 years flying the Merlin HM1 and HM2 on operations. Ian Harding