UK Super Hercules Conducts First Air-Landed Arming and Refueling With Merlin Choppers

The UK Royal Marines Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) and Royal Air Force have achieved a joint air-landed arming and refueling point (ALARP) milestone at Yeovil, Somerset.

The demonstration was the first ALARP mission to replenish two CHF Merlin Mk4 helicopters using a C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft.

Through the drill, CHF and the Royal Air Force assessed the ALARP operability between the two airborne capabilities for refueling missions far from an airfield.

“It’s actually bread and butter to the aviators,” a Royal Navy statement said.

“They’ve done this with Chinooks. And Sea Kings. But not the Royal Marines’ latest battlewagon, the Merlin Mk4.” 

RAF personnel handling C-30J refueling hose.
RAF personnel handling C-30J refueling hose. Photo: UK Royal Air Force

During the ALARP, the Merlin Mk4s completed the refueling sessions “flawlessly despite torrential downpours.”

The dry run at Yeovil is expected to be followed with training at various fields, such as Salisbury Plain’s flat ground, Northumberland’s Otterburn ranges, or a beach that could be utilized as a temporary landing field.

Succeeding C-130J Capabilities

The ALARP service will be integrated into the future A400M Atlas transport aircraft that will replace the C-130J fleet by March next year.

According to the Royal Air Force, 14 Hercules C4s will remain in service until 2023 as the A400M program advances.

Alongside its preparations for ALARP missions, the UK’s Atlas planes were also tested for parachuting capability with the British Army Global Response Force and are set to receive a vehicle airdrop system.

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