Britain's last helicopter manufacturer (Agusta Westland, a division of Italian firm Finmeccanica) has won a $5 billion contract from Algeria for 80 helicopters (40 Merlins and another 40 AW109s and AW139s). The deal involves setting up an assembly plant in Algeria, along with training and maintenance facilities. When complete, Algeria will be second only to Britain (which has 70), as an operator of Merlins.
Merlin is a 15.6 ton aircraft that can carry up to 45 passengers, or five tons of cargo. Top speed is 300 kilometers an hour and endurance is up to five hours. Britain uses them on warships, where they can be armed with up to five machine-guns and a ton of bombs, torpedoes and missiles.
The AW109 is a three ton aircraft with a max speed of 285 kilometers an hour and endurance of about three hours. It can carry up to seven passengers. It can be armed with a machine-gun and up to eight TOW type missiles. The AW139 is a six ton aircraft with a max speed of 300 kilometers an hour, endurance of about three hours and can carry 15 passengers.