The Danish Armed Forces end their EH101 helicopter deployment to the NATO/international forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday 29 September 2015. Most of the 70 personnel returns home on that day, while the helicopters first head to Portugal.
The EH101s (called Merlin in UK service) were operating from Camp Marmal near Mazar-i-Sharif since Summer 2014, tasked with transport, evacuation and troop extraction/insertion.
According to Danish military sources the Helicopter Wing based at Karup Airbase will now first retrain on its core combat tasks, to be back at full capability again in 2016. It is a regular issue with deployments that not all tasks are being trained, reducing the operational readiness of the entire unit somewhat.
Three Danish EH101 formed part of the air component of the Danish-German joint unit in Mazar-i-Sharif, with the Germans operating their larger CH-53s. One chopper was damaged and had to return because of that, but with the remaining two the unit managed to spent 634 hours in the air.
Fresh crews will use the two remaining helicopters first during a military exercise in Portugal, where they train together with EH101s of the Força Aérea Portuguesa. After that they will be cleaned from all dust and sand before they return to Karup.
AgustaWestland and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract on Thursday 25 March covering a five year period of Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) for the UK’s Merlin helicopters. The contract is valued at approximately approximately 790 million EUR and was announced in AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility in the UK.
It’s the third time the helicopter manufacturer and the UK MoD close such a five year deal. The helicopters supported by the contract comprise the 30 Royal Navy Merlin HM Mk.2 multi-role maritime helicopters and the 25 Merlin HC Mk.3 & 3A transport helicopters recently transferred to the Royal Navy from the Royal Air Force.
The Merlin HC Mk.3 & 3A helicopters are being converted by AgustaWestland to Mk.4 and 4A standard for amphibious support operations under the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) contract it was awarded in January 2014.
AgustaWestland is also providing Integrated Operational Support solutions for the UK MoD’s Apache AH Mk.1, AW159 Wildcat and Sea King helicopter fleets.
For a while now Danish AgustaWestland EH101 (AW101) medium helicopters get action at Mazar-i-Sharif in Northern Afghanistan. The ISAF mission and Enduring Freedom might be over, the mission of the Danish Merlins continues.
The Royal Danish Air Force EH101s provide medevac and Combat Search and Rescue for NATO’s Train Advise Assist Command as part of Operation Resolute Support, aimed to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan as support to the Afghan National Army.
Initially the Danes sent three helicopters, but one was severely damaged last year and can – according to the latest intel – no longer act as an operational reserve.
But as the Danes show in a fresh video released on 9 January 2015, the remaining pair of Merlins still get the job done.
Dark green Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin choppers heading for the dusty environment of Afghanistan. Wednesday 2 July 75 troops officially said goodbye to Karup Airbase to head for Mazar-e-Sharif. They will fly and support two Merlins from 1 August, with holding a third EH101 in reserve.
Although Northern Afghanistan is new to many Danes, part the force being send now has seen action in Afghanistan before. Some Danish crews actually flew with British EH101s flying from Camp Bastion in the Helmand province in the past few years. Others flew the Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) AS550C2 Fennec in the Asian country in 2008, also from Bastion.
The Danish forces and the Merlins will be embedded with the German continent at Camp Marmal. The Danes will primary support the German ISAF operations there, as a Danish radar unit did in 2012.
To prepare the EH101s for Afghanistan, Denmark has upgraded the choppers since 2011. They now sport a self-defence suite, including door-mounted machine guns. At home the 14 Merlins in RDAF service fly both tactical military as search-and-rescue missions. This summer marks the first time the Danish Merlins are deployed tactically in a real-war situation.
LATEST UPDATE 4 APRIL 2014 22:45 UTC | Kick off on 26 March 2014 for the very large NATO+ naval exercise Joint Warrior – Spring edition. Place of events: the North Sea and coastal areas of Scotland. More than 10,000 military personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, New-Zealand, Norway, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom participate. They put to sea 35 vessels, 35 helicopters and about 30 aircraft. The actual war games take place from 31 March to 10 April and marks the first deployment ever of the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon (US Navy) in Europe!
Footage of 40 Commando Royal Marines in helicopter assault, Joint Warrior 31 March 2014
RAF Lossiemouth will be the main air base of operations for the land based air assets, with RAF Leuchars as the secondary land base. The air assets confirmed to be involved in Joint Warrior Spring 2014 are these units and/or aircraft:
Marine (French Navy) Breguet Atlantique from SECBAT (tail nr. 18), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CP-140 Aurora, two aircraft (140115, 140113 (404 Maritime Patrol and Training Squadron, CFB Greenwood)), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Westland Wildcat maritime helicopters from 700W Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, UK
Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm AgustaWestland Merlin Mk1 shipborne ASW helicopters from 829 Naval Air Squadron, operating from Type 23 frigates
Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm AgustaWestland Merlin Mk2 maritime patrol & anti-piracy helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, UK
Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Westland Sea King Mk4 (Commando Helicopter Force) from 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from Helicopter Carrier HMS Illustrious
Royal Netherlands Air Force Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) AS532U2 Cougar Mk2 transport helicopters from 300 Squadron (Gilze Rijen AB), two embarked on the LPD L801 Johan de Witt
Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed P-3K Orion from 5 Squadron (NZ2403) (Whenuapai Mil), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm BAe Hawk T1 advanced jet trainers from 736 Naval Air Squadron (RNAS Culdrose), at least 4 aircraft (incl. no. XX170, XX301, and XX316), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed P-3C Orion (3298 “Viking”) from 333 skvadron (Andøya AB), operating from RAF Lossiemouth
Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules (5629 “Nanna”) from 353 skvadron (Gardermoen IAP), flying in supplies to RAF Lossiemouth
Royal Air Force BAe Hawk T2 advanced jet trainers from 4(R) Squadron, RAF Valley
Royal Air Force BAe Hawk T1 advanced jet trainers from 100 Squadron, RAF Leeming
Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 interdicter strike aircraft from IX Squadron, RAF Marham
Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighters from XI Squadron, RAF Coningsby
Royal Air Force Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACS from 8 Squadron, RAF Waddington
Royal Air Force Airbus Voyager tanker (A330 MRTT) from 10 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules from 47 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
Royal Air Force BAe 125 CC3 (ZD703) liaison jet from RAF Northolt, flying in RAF Lossiemouth 29 March 2014
Royal Air Force Agusta Westland Merlin HC3 medium-lift helicopters from either 28(AC) Squadron and/or 78 Squadron, RAF Benson
Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook medium-lift helicopters from either 7 and/or 18 and/or 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham
Army Air Corps Boeing/Westland WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters
Army Air Corps Boeing Chinook transport helicopters, incl. from 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham
Army Air Corps Aérospatiale Puma transport helicopters
Army Air Corps Lynx Mk9A
US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol & surveillance aircraft, from VP-5 (436) (NAS Jacksonville), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
US Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion MPA, two aircraft from VP-10 (161413, 885) (NAS Jacksonville), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
US Navy Lockheed NP-3 Orion MPA test aircraft, from VX-20 (158204) (NAS Patuxent River), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
US Navy Sikorsky SH-60 and MH-60 Seahawk shipborne maritime helicopters on board the cruisers USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) guided-missile destroyers USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Ross (DDG 71), guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG 58), and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawa (T-AO 196)
US Navy Lockheed C-130T-30 Hercules (no. 4598) from VR-55 (NAS Point Mugu) flying in supplies to RAF Lossiemouth
Sources: Koninklijke Marine / Royal Navy / US Navy and several aviation enthousiasts with the latest on-site confirmations.