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military helicopters • gunships • army attack helicopters
military helicopters

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.

sea king hc4
A Royal Navy Sea King HC4 painted in arctic camouflage.

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

Sea King lifting howitzer
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
Crew 2x Pilot + 1x Aircrewman
Engines 2 x Rolls Royce Gnome H 1400 IT Turboshaft engines
Dimensions L - 22.15m
W (rotor diameter) - 18.9m
H - 5.13m
Weights 4,429 kg (empty)
9,525 kg (max loadout)
Max Speed 267 kph
Range 396 km
Armament 2 x GPMG
Avionics ALQ-157 Infra Red Jammers
Sky Guardian 2000 radar-warning receiver
Missile Approach Warning System
Bowman secure communications suite
‘Elmer’ secure speech radio
Mode ‘C’ identification friend or foe system

sea king hc4 helicopters
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
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