Westland Sea King
- Category: Aircraft
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Crew: Has a crew of 4 in the ASW role and can also carry 28 troops in the utility role or 22 survivors in the SAR (Search & Rescue) role.
Variants with Serial Numbers: Mk.42; IN501 - IN512 (14 Oct 1970*)
........................................Mk.42A; IN551 - IN553 (23 Nov 1979*)
........................................Mk.42B; IN513 - IN533 (17 May 1985*)
........................................Mk.42C; IN555 - IN560 (25 Sept 1986*)
*Indicates the date of delivery to the Indian Navy
Known Losses: IN506 (18 Jun 1983)
.....................IN508 (17 Jan 1986)
.....................IN525 (26 Mar 2003)
.....................IN551 (25 May 1990)
.....................Unidentified (01 Feb 1981)
.....................Unidentifed (28 Feb 2007)
Retired Airframes: IN504, IN505, IN509, IN510, IN511
Engine: Two Rolls-Royce 1400-1T turbofans, rated at 1660 shp.
Operational Speed: 112 knots (208 km/h).
Service Ceiling: 11,500 ft. (3500 meters).
Range: 664n miles (1230 km).
Maximum Payload: 8000 lbs. (3628 kg).
Sensors: The Mk.42B variant has a MEL Super Searcher radar, an Alcatel HS-12 dipping sonar, a Chelton 7 homer, a ESM by Marconi Hermes and an AQS-902B acoustic processor. The Mk.42C variant has a nose-mounted Bendix RDR 1400C radar, which replaces the MEL Super Searcher.
Weapons: For ASW use; two Whitehead A244S or USSR APR-2 torpedoes, Mk.11 bombs and mines (only on the Mk.42B). For ASV use; two Sea Eagle AShMs (only on the Mk.42B).
Comments: The Sea King Mk.42 is licensed produced by the UK-based GKN Westland, from Sikorsky - a US company. The Sea King Mk.42 forms the backbone of the Naval Air Arm's ASW capability and has purchased more examples from GKN Westland than any other overseas customer. Atleast 42 variants were delivered in total. It is estimated that only about thirty are still in service.
Compared to the small size of the Hughes, the Seaking is on the other extreme. It is as large as a small Bus and when it flies its leaves an indelible impression on the spectator! The Seaking was manufactured by the Westland company in Britain and was procured to fulfill an ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) requirement in the Navy.
The first of the Seakings were procured in the early 70s. On 3 Nov 1970, Two Seakings were handed over the Indian High Commissioner for UK. The two Helicopters IN-501 and IN-502 were commissioned as INAS 330 Squadron in 1971. Soon the first batch of 12 Seakings were operational.
Over the years, the Seakings not only formed the ASW squadron on the aircraft carriers, but became the ASW chopper of choice - equipping all Indian manufactured ships like the Godavari class frigates and the Delhi class destroyers. The Seaking also became the preferred mount for the Marcos (Marine Commandos).
Sanctions imposed by the Clinton Administration for India's May 1998 nuclear tests, led to an acute shortage of critical spare parts for the Sea King fleet. On 23 November 2000, in a parliamentary session in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister George Fernandes stated in a written reply that an acute shortage of critical spare parts had affected the operational efficacy of the Sea King fleet, with 60% of the helicopters grounded. Flights of the Sea King were cut down to a bare minimum and the SAR role taken over by the smaller, single-engined HAL Chetak helicopters. The British Government continued with its efforts to press high level US authorities for flexibility, particularly in view of the Sea King's SAR role. On 19 January 2001, the Clinton Administration lifted the sanctions and the go-ahead was given for the sale of spare parts for the Sea King fleet. A Sainik Samachar edition - 01 February 2004 - reported that in a parliamentary session in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister George Fernandes stated that 98 spares for the helicopter were ordered through the Foreign Military Sales [FMS] scheme. Of these, 80 spares were already delivered.
A Ministry of Defense press release on 28 June 2004, stated that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL] and the Indian Navy [IN] signed an Memorandum of Understanding with AgustaWestland for repair and overhaul of the transmission system components of the Sea King. With a project cost of around Rs. 71.68 crore, it will go a long way in enhancing the fleet serviceability of the Sea King and reducing the down time. The facility became fully functional by the end of 2004. As a result of this, the IN has an uninterrupted repair & spares support and full overhaul capability to enhance its reliability and fleet readiness at all times. With this project, the IN has become self reliant in the service and full overhaul of transmission assemblies of this helicopter and also serves as a platform in achieving self reliance on other helicopters of foreign origin. The project also provides an opportunity to attain exposure to new technology on promotion of local vendors through indigenisation. This project is a major milestone in creating an indigenous, state-of-the-art generic repair & full overhaul facility. The joint efforts of the IN and HAL led to the signing of a contract for the Transfer of Technology [ToT] from AgustaWestland to HAL in March 2004, which was a prerequisite for setting up this facility at HAL, Bangalore.
An AgustaWestland press release on 26 September 2006, stated that the Indian Navy awarded a contract to return to service seven existing Sea King Mk.42B helicopters of the Indian Navy. Work on the contract will commence immediately with AgustaWestland providing a specialist team that will work with personnel from the Indian aerospace industry to undertake the recovery program. HAL will undertake the repair and overhaul of 'rotable' items, including the transmission and rotor heads in support of this contract.