The SH-2 Seasprite is an anti-submarine / surface ship helicopter developed by the US Navy in 1972. The design was based around the Kaman utility/rescue helicopter. The Seasprite Sh-2D was developed for the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) program. LAMPS extends the sensor reach of Naval vessels by linking to the radar/sonar/electronic/magnetic sensors aboard suitably-equipped helicopters. With a LAMPS helicopter, the mothership, or indeed the entire fleet, can detect threats over the horizon and deep underwater.
Seasprites carry a suite of sensors for tracking both surface and underwater contacts. The distinctive disc in the helicopter's chin houses a LN-66HP search radar. Later models (SH-2G) are fitted with a FLIR/laser designator pod. Sonobouys dropped into the water are used to hunt for submarines. On earlier models, the sonar returns would be processed by the Seasprite's mothership whilst the SH-2G is fitted with its own onboard processor. The SH-2 can also deploy a Magnetic Anomaly Detector probe to pinpoint a sub's location. In the minesweeping role, the Seasprite employs a Kaman Magic Lantern airborne laser mine detection system to scan below the waves for submerged mines.
The SH-2 Seasprite can be armed with various air-to-surface weapons including Mark 46 or Mark 50 torpedoes, AGM-65 Maverick infra-red guided missiles, AGM-119 Penguin infra-red guided missiles and AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles. Door guns can be pintle-mounted to the cabin but this is rarely seen.
Within the US Navy, the Seasprite's role has been taken over by the SH-60 Sea Hawk. Many variants of Seasprites still fly in the Navies of other countries including Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and Poland.
SH-2G Seasprite Specifications
An SH-2G Seasprite painted in the now standard light grey scheme, with less strident national markings as the dark blue scheme of older models. The front landing gear can just be seen retracted in fairings under the cabin.
U.S. DOD photo by PH1(AW) M.K. MILLER, USN