After flying more than 18,000 hours in Afghanistan, moving more than 7,900 tonnes of kit and stores and transporting over 130,000 personnel since 2009, RAF Merlin helicopters have finished their deployment in the Helmand region, where they have primarly flown troop transport missions.
The following images where released by the UK MoD, and show one of the large, partly disassembled choppers (the same used for the 2012 Olympic opener and latest 007 movie) inside a RAF C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft used to bring the Merlins back home.
Image credit: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.
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With slightly over 35,000 total hours in 4 years, it seems improbable that this unit spent over half of them in the air during that time period… Seeing that most commercial jets average about 3,000 hours/year in the air, give or take.
Had about 41 years in the aircraft industry, both military and civil. Seems most military aircraft do about 500-1000/year in the air compared to 9/11 for commercial efforts.
He’s talking about the fleet accumulating 18,000 hours, not that one bird.
You’re right, I realized that after posting my comment. Sorry for the senior moment…
Great story and Pictures. Love the cardboard, duct tape problem solving.
Wasn’t an AW139 used for the Olympic opener not a Merlin?
An AW139 and an AW101 was being used for the Olympic Opening