The UK Royal Air Force’s fleet of Merlin helicopters has passed the extensive preflight checks, and are now ready for operational flying, following its transportation and reassembly.

The Merlin helicopters, capable of carrying up to 20 personnel, will provide an additional capability to the Chinook, Sea King and Lynx, as well as transporting troops to and from the forward operating bases and resupplying them with ammunition, food and equipment.

The number of UK military helicopters will increase significantly, following the completion of deployment of the entire fleet to Afghanistan, by the end of 2009.