AgustaWestland (branded as Leonardo Helicopters since January 2016.
Westland EH-101 Merlin
Design and development
The AgustaWestland AW101 is a medium-lift helicopter used in both military and civil applications. It was developed by a joint venture between Westland Helicopters in the United Kingdom and Agusta in Italy in response to national requirements for a modern naval utility helicopter. Several operators, including the armed forces of Britain, Denmark, Norway and Portugal, use the name Merlin for their AW101 aircraft. It is manufactured at factories in Yeovil, England and Vergiate, Italy; licensed assembly work has also taken place in Japan and the United States.
Prior to 2007, the aircraft had been marketed under the designation EH101. The original designation was EHI 01 but a transcription error of a handwritten note changed this to EH101 and the designation stuck. In 2000, Westland Helicopters and Agusta merged to form AgustaWestland, leading to the type's redesignation as AW101. The type first flew in 1987, and entered into service in 1999. Since the AW101's introduction, it has replaced several older helicopter types, such as the Sea King, performing roles such as medium-sized transport, anti-submarine warfare, and ship-based utility operations.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operates a variant of the AW101, designated CH-149 Cormorant, in the air-sea rescue role. Another variant, designated VH-71 Kestrel, was being developed to serve in the US presidential transport fleet; however, the program was cancelled. Civil operators also use AW101s in roles such as passenger and VIP transportation. The type has been deployed to active combat theatres, such as in support of coalition forces during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.
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In 1977, the UK Ministry of Defence issued a requirement for an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter to replace the Royal Navy's Westland Sea Kings, which were becoming inadequate in the face of advances in Soviet submarine technology. Westland Helicopters put together a proposal, designated WG.34, for a three-engined helicopter of similar dimensions to the Sea King; the WG.34 was to feature more autonomy and a greater range than its predecessor. At the same time, the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) was also considering the replacement of its fleet of Sea Kings, which had been built by the Italian company Agusta; Westland and Agusta soon began talks regarding the joint development of a successor helicopter.
Westland EH-101 Merlin
In 1997, in light of the declining condition of its helicopter fleet, Canada launched the Canadian Search and Rescue Helicopter competition. It was won by the EH101, which was designated CH-149 Cormorant in Canadian service.
Role Anti-submarine warfare, medium-lift transport and utility helicopter
National origin United Kingdom/Italy
Manufacturer Agusta; Westland Helicopters
First flight 9 October 1987
Specifications click here
Agusta/Westland EH-101 Merlin
Following the merger of Westland and Agusta to form AgustaWestland in 2000, there was no need for the separate EHI entity; the EH101 was formally re-branded as the AW101 in 2007.