Royal Navy Merlin helicopters have been spotted over the skies of Teesside today as they make runs from RAF Leeming to the North Sea, where it is believed they are resupplying military vessels like the HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier or Type 45 destroyers known to be involved in the exercises.

The distinctive aircraft are likely participating in Operation Steadfast Defender 24, a large-scale NATO exercise designed to test the Alliance’s ability to defend its territory and reinforce troops across Europe.

The helicopters’ logistical missions are crucial in supporting the wider operation underway.

The Royal Navy Merlin helicopters spotted over Teesside are versatile and powerful aircraft. A medium-lift transport helicopter, Merlins are easily recognised by their three-rotor design and the distinctive sound of their engines. Designed for both maritime and ground operations, they are essential for troop transport, logistical support, and even search-and-rescue missions