As a replacement for the Westland Wessex anti-submarine helicopter, the Royal Navy chose the Sea King, a version of the Westland Helicopters anti-submarine helicopter
The Westland Sea King first took to the skies in 1969. Over the course of the last five decades, the aircraft has proven to be trustworthy and reliable, and has seen service with the UK MoD and eight international operators, with over 340 aircraft being delivered. It has not only stood the test of time, but has bridged the gap to the latest-generation AW101 helicopter.
Compared with the US SH-3 Sea King, the Westland WS-61 Sea King is significantly different. It was equipped with Rolls-Royce Gnome engines, British-made anti-submarine warfare systems and fully computerized flight control systems.
The helicopter is 17m long (55 ft 10 in), 5.13m high (16 ft 10 in), empty weight 6.37 tons, and maximum takeoff weight is 9.7 tons.
The British helicopter was designed with a watertight hull. A unique ability of the Sea King is that it can land on water thanks to its buoys with floating bags.
Westland Sea King is operated by a crew of 2-4 people, depending on the mission. As a Naval helicopter, the Sea King features the tail and the main rotor blades are folded for storage on naval ships.
The helicopter is powered by two Rolls-Royce H.1400-2 Gnome turboshaft engines, producing 1,660 horsepower each. Sea King can reach a top speed of 207 km/h (129 mph), a range of 1,230 km (764 mi), a Rate of climb of 10.3 m/s (2,020 ft/min).
Anti-submarine warfare role
In its anti-submarine warfare role, the Westland Sea King is armed with four Mk.44, Mk.46 or Stingray torpedoes, or four depth charges. Export versions can carry Sea Eagle or Exocet missiles for anti-shipping duties. Also this helicopter has provision for various door-mounted machine guns.
On upgraded versions, this helicopter has improved ASW equipment and has provision to use sonobuoys.
A popular variant of the Sea King is the HC.4 also known as the Westland Commando. It is an assault transport helicopter, used by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. This helicopter has an elongated cabin, which can carry 28 troops. It was originally developed for the Egyptian Air Force, so its undercarriage is simplified. Its amphibious capability was eliminated, so the side floats were no longer needed.
Due to its wide range, the HC4 Commando became an important asset for amphibious warfare and troop transport duties, in particular. On British service, the Sea King HC4 was deployed in operations in the Falklands, Balkans, and in the Gulf War, Sierra Leone, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
The helicopter also appeared in the Sea King HAR.5 search and rescue version, used by the RAF. Another version is the Sea King AEW.5 airborne early warning used by the Royal Navy. It can also be used as a utility helicopter in the Sea King HU.5 version.
- Crew: 2-4
- Length: 55 ft 10 in (17.02 m)
- Height: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m)
- Empty weight: 14,051 lb (6,373 kg)
- Gross weight: 21,000 lb (9,525 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 21,400 lb (9,707 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce H.1400-2 Gnome turboshaft engines, 1,660 shp (1,240 kW) each
- Main rotor diameter: 62 ft 0 in (18.90 m)
- Main rotor area: 3,020 sq ft (281 m2)
- Blade section: NACA 0012
- Cruise speed: 112 kn (129 mph, 207 km/h) (max cruise at sea level)
- Range: 664 nmi (764 mi, 1,230 km)
- Rate of climb: 2,020 ft/min (10.3 m/s)