Sea King HC4
A variant of the SH-3 helicopter, built under license in the UK, the Sea King HC4 is operated by the British Royal Navy. HC4s are flown by Royal Navy Air Squadrons (RNAS) 845, 846 and 848 and form the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), along with RNAS 847 who fly the Lynx AH7.
The Sea King HC4 is designed as an amphibious troop transport helicopter, specifically the transport of Royal Marines Commandos. Lacking any of the sensors and avionics found on the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variants, the Sea King HC4 can carry up to 27 fully-laden troops (or up to 2,720 kg of internal stores).
To enable the HC4 to operate from aircraft carriers and amphibious assault platforms, the aircraft features folding rotor blades and tail booms, just like the ASW variants.
Royal Navy HC4s are typically armed with up to 2 L7A2 GPMGs - a 7.62mmx51mm belt-fed machine gun.
While designed for the low-altitude profile required for ship-to-shore operations, the Sea King HC4 has recently seen action in the high and hot environment of Afghanistan. The HC4s in the Commando Helicopter Force were upgraded with improved main rotors and a new 5-blade tail rotor assembly that allowed them to operate in Afghanistan.
Sea King HC4s saw action in the 1982 Falklands Conflict between the UK and Argentina. Royal Navy pilots pioneered the use of night vision goggles in low level flights across the Falklands while inserting and extracting British special forces. They also took part in the first ever helicopter-borne assault of a ship, delivering Special Boat Squadron commandos onto an Argentine spy ship.
Sea King HC4 Specifications
A Sea King HC4 delivers a 105mm howitzer to troops on the ground. The HC4 can carry up to 2.4 tonnes as an under slung load
4 Sea King HC.4s with the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). The CHF's primary role is to provide airlift for 3 Commando Brigade, the UK's amphibious rapid reaction force.
photo : NATO