Merlin helicopters have been delivering morale-boosting Christmas post from loved ones to soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan.
The helicopters, which arrived in Afghanistan last month, deliver letters from home along with vital supplies and ammunition to Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and Patrol Bases. The Merlins pictured were delivering mail and supplies to members of 1 SCOTS in FOB Wishtan, and members of 3RIFLES in Sangin.
The Merlin helicopters have deployed to Afghanistan as part of a move to boost air support. The helicopters can carry up to 20 personnel to the FOBs. The Merlin crews supported ground forces throughout the Christmas period, and remain ready to deliver supplies at a moment’s notice.
The Merlin Force deployed to Afghanistan after completing operations in Iraq in August 2009. The crews undertook intensive pre-deployment training and the aircraft have received significant upgrades to meet the challenges of the harsh Afghanistan environment.
This follows Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth’s announcement last week that the MoD will buy 22 additional Chinook helicopters with the intention of delivering the first 10 during 2012 and 2013. This is part of a new Future Helicopter Strategy that will deliver a 40 per cent increase in the number of lift helicopters available for use on operations in extreme conditions, such as those in Afghanistan.
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