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Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter (1961)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/26/2014
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The hugely successful Sikorsky S-61 platform has been adapted to a wide variety of roles including ASW, SAR, VIP transport and AEW forms.

At its peak, the Sikorsky SH-3 series of naval aircraft was a widely used and successful platform utilized in anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue operations. Development stemmed from a United States Navy 1957 contract proposal that would produce a flying prototype by 1959. Operational service was attained a short two years later.

In service, the SH-3 was called upon to accomplish one of the more important roles in fleet defense - protection from enemy submarines. As such, the aircraft was usually the first platform aloft, an indication of the importance of the type. Aided by the AQS81B dipping sonar radar, MAD, sonobuoys and a fleet-wide linkup, the Sea King could effectively provide an entire fleet with results of her readings. Standard armament could be 2 or 4 torpedoes along with chaff pods for self-defense against enemy missiles. Other armament configurations would see the Sea King sporting anti-ship missiles or depth charges as needed.

The SH-3 developed into a versatile performer, allowing for medevac and transport roles as efficiently as it was utilized for warfare roles. As a medical transport, over 20 wounded could be carried aloft, or these personnel replaced by 9 medical litters. Additionally, some 28 combat-ready personnel can be shuttled about when needed in the military transport role. An interesting facet of the Sea King's design is in the ability for the system to land on water as it is an amphibious design. Though it is limited in the total time it can stay afloat, the hull is designed to support this feature though it remains a seldom used capability of the Sea King's design.

The SH-3 appears in other notable guises from time to time, most notably in the form of Marine One - the VIP transport helicopter used to shuttle the President of the United States and is operated by the United States Marine Corps. SH-3's were also noted in their use during the recovery of the Apollo 14 crew. In areas of USN service, the SH-3 has already begun seeing replacement by the newer SH-60 Sea Hawk, a variant of the well-known US Army Blackhawk helicopter platform though the system still remains in some operational roles - particularly with other nations across the globe.

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Specifications for the
Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King
Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter

Focus Model: Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Sikorsky - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1961
Production: 1,100

Crew: 4 + 3

Length: 54.76 ft (16.69 m)
Width: 0.00 ft (0.00 m)
Height: 16.83ft (5.13 m)
Weight (Empty): 11,865 lb (5,382 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 21,499 lb (9,752 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines developing 1,400shp each and driving a five-blade main rotor and five-blade tail rotor.

Maximum Speed: 166 mph (267 kmh; 144 kts)
Maximum Range: 624 miles (1,005 km)
Service Ceiling: 14,701 ft (4,481 m; 2.8 miles)

Hardpoints: 4
Armament Suite:
Varies depending on operator:

2 OR 4 x Mk 46/44 torpedoes
2 x anti-ship missiles
4 x depth charges

Up to 840lbs of ordnance and equipment. Door guns optional on some models.

Variants: [ SHOW / HIDE ]

Argentina; Australia; Belgium; Brazil; Canada; Denmark; Egypt; Germany; India; Iran; Iraq; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Malaysia, Norway; Pakistan; Peru; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Thailand; Venezuela; United Kingdom; United States