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

    The hugely-successful Sikorsky S-61 platform has been adapted to a wide variety of roles including ASW, SAR, VIP transport and AEW forms globally.

     Updated: 6/21/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    At its peak, the Sikorsky SH-3 series of navy helicopter was a widely-used and successful platform undertaking a variety of over-water roles including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Search And Rescue (SAR) operations. Development stemmed from a 1957 United States Navy (USN) requirement calling for a flyable prototype by 1959. A first-flight was had on March 11th, 1959 and service entry followed in 1961. Production spanned 1959 to the 1970s.

    By this time in the Cold War, the Soviet Navy had put a heavy investment on its submarine force and, in response, the USN was forced to modernize its surface fleet to deal with the underwater threat. This also included strengthening its air arm for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role and components like the Sea King were developed for just that.

    The resulting Sikorsky design became a medium-class twin-engined amphibious system with the appropriate support for ASW mission equipment and shipborne operational capabilities.

    The prototype was designated XHSS-2 and was a one-off example. YHSS-2 represented the preproduction form and seven were built. HSS-2 was the original in-service designation of the Sea King until the 1962 U.S. military reorganization changed this to SH-3. Hence the original HSS-2 now became the SH-3A in service. Two-hundred forty-five of this mark were produced.

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    Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1961
    Type: Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopter
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Sikorsky Aircraft - USA
    Production Total: 1,100

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 54.79 feet (16.7 meters)
    Width: 62.34 feet (19.00 meters)
    Height: 16.90 feet (5.15 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 11,872 lb (5,385 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 22,046 lb (10,000 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines developing 1,400 horsepower each and driving a five-blade main rotor and five-blade tail rotor.

    Maximum Speed: 166 mph (267 kph; 144 knots)
    Maximum Range: 621 miles (1,000 km)
    Service Ceiling: 14,698 feet (4,480 meters; 2.78 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 2,000 feet-per-minute (610 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    2 OR 4 x Mark 44 or Mark 46 torpedoes
    2 x Anti-Ship Missiles (ASMs)
    4 x Naval depth charges
    B-57 nuclear depth charge
    2 x 7.62mm Machine guns at door mountings

    Up to 840lb of ordnance and / or mission equipment. Door guns optional (some models).

    Global Operators / Customers

    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

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    XHSS S-2 - Single Example Prototype of the H-3

    YHS S-2 - Development and Test Aircraft; seven examples produced.

    S-61 - Sikorsky Company Designation

    S-61A - Export Designation for Royal Danish AF usage

    S-61A Nuri - Export Designation for Malaysian AF usage; dedicated troop transport; seating for 31.

    S-61A/AH - Utility Model for Antarctica sear and rescue (SAR) operations

    S-61B - Export Designation for Japanese MSDF usage; based on SH-3 model; anti-submarine warfare version.

    S-61D-3 - Export Model Designation for Brazil

    S-61D-4 - Export Model Designation for Argentina

    S-61NR - Search and rescue (SAR) model for Argentine usage.

    S-61L/N - Civilian Model of the Sea King

    S-61R - Sikorsky company designation for CH-3C/E and HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" models serving with USAF, USCG and Italian forces.

    S-61V - Single Example Model produced for Indonesia; Sikorsky company designation for VH-3A.

    HSS-2 - Original Production Series Designation

    CH-3A - USAF Dedicated Transport Model; conversions from SH-3A models; 3 examples converted as such.

    CH-3B - USAF Dedicated Transport Model

    CH-124 - Canadian Naval Model; anti-submarine warfare version

    HH-3A - SH-3A model conversions to search and rescue (SAR) aircraft; 12 examples converted as such.

    NH-3A (S-61F) - Experimental Variant conversion from SH-3A model; fitted with turbojet engines and wing structures; single example model.

    RH-3A - Dedicated Minesweeper; 9 examples converted from SH-3A.

    SH-3A - Initial Production Model; dedicated anti-submarine warfare model; fitted with T58-GE8B turboshaft engines of 1,260 horsepower; 245 examples produced.

    SH-3D - Upgraded SH-3 Model

    SH-3D-TS - Anti-Submarine Warfare Model

    SH-3G - Utility/Cargo Model for US Navy

    SH-3H - Multirole/General Purpose Anti-Submarine Model; dipping sonar; MAD gear; search radar; for US Navy

    SH-3H AEW - Airborne Early Warning Model.

    UH-3H - Utility/Cargo Transport Model for US Navy

    VH-3A - US Army and Marines VIP Transport Model

    VH-3D - US Marine Corps VIP Transport Model

    AS-61/ASH-3 - Agusta Production Designation built under license in Italy.

    AS-61A-1 - Italian Export Model Designation for Royal Malaysian AF use.

    AS-61A-4 - Agusta license production model; search and rescue and military transport model.

    AS-61N-1 Silver - Agusta License Production Model of the S-61N but with shorter cabin area.

    AS-61VIP - Agusta license production model; VIP passenger transport model.

    ASH-3A - Agusta license production model; multi-purpose utility transport model.

    ASH-3D - Agusta license production model; anti-submarine warfare version

    ASH-3TS (ASH-3D/TS) - Agusta license production executive VIP transport model.

    ASH-3H - Agusta license production model; anti-submarine warfare version

    Sea King HAS.Mk 1 - Initial Sea King production model produced under license by Westland in the United Kingdom based on a re-engined SH-3D model; fitted with 2 x Rolls-Royce H.1400 Gnome series engines.

    Sea King HAS.Mk 2 - Westland license production

    Sea King HAS.Mk 5 - Westland license production

    Sea King HAS.Mk 6 - Westland license production

    Sea King AEW.Mk 2A - Westland license production; dedicated AEW variant; conversion of HAS.Mk 2 models.

    Sea King AEW.Mk 5 - Westland license production; dedicated AEW variant; conversion of HAS.Mk 5 models.

    Sea King AEW.Mk 7 - Westland license production; dedicated AEW variant; conversion of HAS.Mk 5 models.

    Sea King HAR.Mk 3 - Westland license production; search and rescue (SAR) derivative.

    Sea King HAR.Mk 3A -Westland license production; search and rescue (SAR) derivative.

    S-61A - Mitsubishi license production; based on S-61A model; search and rescue and utility platform.

    HSS-2 -Mitsubishi license production; based on the S-61B model; anti-submarine warfare series.

    HSS-2A -Mitsubishi license production; based on the S-61B (SH-3D) model; anti-submarine warfare series.

    HSS-2B -Mitsubishi license production; based on the S-61B (SH-3H) model; anti-submarine warfare series.