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M-507 AgustaWestland EH 101 Series 512 c/n 50136 l/n DEN07 - Royal Danish Air Force Esk.722 'Rescue-07' - Groningen Airport Eelde in Holland - 9 April 2008 Groningen Airport Eelde (GRQ)

The AgustaWestland EH101 is a medium-weight multi-role utility three engine helicopter, accommodating up to 4 crew and 45 standing troops or 16 stretchers mith medics in the military role, or 30 seats in the civil version. From June 2007, the EH101 is known as AgustaWestland AW101. In 2003 AgustaWestland and Kawasaki signed an agreement to produce and support the Japanese variant of the EH101, the MCH101. In the USA, AgustaWestland, Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter have joined forces to produce a United States-built American version of the AgustaWestland EH101 helicopter, known as the US101.

Development of the EH101 started in 1977. That year, the UK Ministry of Defence issued Naval Staff Requirement 6646 for a ASW (anti-submarine warfare) helicopter, to replace the Westland Sea King in service with the Royal Navy. Westland Helicopters started design studies, to meet the MoD (Navy) requirement. The result was a design designated WG.34 which, in September 1978, was selected by the MoD for further development. Meanwhile, in Italy the Italian Navy and Agusta had discussions over a requirement to replace the Agusta-built Sea Kings in service with the Marina Militari Italiana. As Agusta and Westland were working on similar and expensive projects a series of inter-company discussions took place over the possibility of a joint venture meeting both countries requirements. In November 1979, the British and Italian government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formalising the joint venture. In June 1980, Agusta and Westland formed a joint company, called European Helicopter Industries (EHI), to manage the project. In 1981, the basic configuration of the helicopter establised. On 9 October 1987, the first prototype PP1 (ZF641) flew first at Yeovil, followed by the Italian protoptype PP2 in Vergiate on 26 November 1987. A total of 9 development prototypes were built. The first flight of a production Merlin took place on 6 December 1995. The first fully operational Merlin HM1 was handed over to the Royal Navy on 27 may 1997. The EH101 helicopter is powered by 3 engines (RTM322 or T700), has a 5-blade fully articulated main rotor, a four blades tail rotor and a tricycle retractable wheel landing gear. The EH101 has a single pilot full glass cockpit and can be armed with 4 torpedoes or 2 long range missiles. In 2001, Agusta merged with GKN Westland to form AgustaWestland, thus eliminating the need for EHI as a joint venture company. Orders for the EH101 came from the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Denmark, USA, Canada and Portugal. More than 160 EH101s had been sold.

On 7 December 2001, the Royal Danish Air Force ordered fourteen EH101s, eight in a muli-role SAR version and six in a tactical transport version. In 2007, six of the Danish Merlins were purchased by to UK MoD to provide support for the Britis Armed Forces deployd worldwide. Before entering service with the Royal Air Force, AgustaWestland modified the ex Danish Air Force EH101 Mk512 Merlins to the EH101 HC Mk3A standard. As replacemnet for the six transferred to the UK, AgustaWestland will deliver six new build EH101s to the Royal Danish Air Force. On 10 January 2006, the first Merlin of the 2001-order was delivered and to the Danish Air Force. On 19 May 2006, AgustaWestland EH101 Mk512 c/n 50136 was delivered to the Royal Danish Air Force and entered service as M-507 'RESCUE 07' with Esk.722, the Search and Rescue Squadron. Before delivery to Danmark, the M-507 was registered first with the Royal Air Force as ZJ996. On 9 April 2008, Royal Danish Air Force Esk.722' AgustaWestland EH 101 Merlin M-507 'Rescue-07' came in as 'DAF507' at Groningen Airport Eelde in the Netherlands during an en-routing training.

page last updated: 10-04-2008
Photo Copyright © Jack Poelstra, the Netherlands

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