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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

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

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


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: 166mph (267kmh; 144kts)
Maximum Range: 624miles (1,005km)
Service Ceiling: 14,701ft (4,481m; 2.8miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet per minute (0m/min)


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:
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.


Operators:
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