It’s not news but thought it worth highlighting the valuable contribution the Sea King has made to operations in Afghanistan and Libya now they have returned.
A pair of ASaC Mk7′s from 857 Naval Air Squadron carried out over 100 sorties from HMS Ocean in support of the NATO led operation.
In addition, Sea King Mk4′s in Afghanistan have been withdrawn. As operations in Afghanistan seem to be changing in nature the capability of the Sea King mk4′s, which even with blade and other upgrades was marginal, is not needed when balanced against the opportunity for their aircrews to start conversion to Merlin’s which is part of the transfer of the Merlin HC3/3a fleet to the Commando Helicopter Force from the RAF.
The Sea King is a real success story and has delivered consistently reliable and cost effective service for a long time.
Reported in Jane’s recently was also news of the replacement for the ASaC Mk7′s.
The Crowsnest Programme will be moving into the Assessment Phase soon with Lockheed Martin appointed as prime contractor. The prime contractor be involved in the selection competition between Thales and, umm, err, Lockheed Martin.
Crowsnest is defined as;
A helicopter based radar and control system that allows the identification of airborne threats beyond existing shipborne sensors and the control of any embarked aircraft
So that would seem to scotch any dalliance of notions of E2 aircraft, even a shared capability with the French, the definition being explicit about the platform.
Jane’s also reported that the preferred solution is a role fit kit for Merlin HM.2′s, with 10 kits obtained for up to 8 available aircraft in the role, instead of dedicated aircraft.