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News

Australia selling off its last Sea Kings


UPI, September 08, 2011 - The Australian navy is selling off its remaining five Sea King helicopters and accessories, Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare said.

The request for tender also includes three incomplete airframes, a flight simulator and associated equipment and parts.

The Sea Kings will be withdrawn from service in December 2011, Clare said.

They ve been the workhorse of the navy, having flown in excess of 60,000 hours in operations in Australia and overseas. The latest example of their work was the disaster relief and search and rescue missions they conducted during the Queensland floods in January.

Clare said the five examples still could be used in civilian roles including firefighting, disaster relief, search-and-rescue operations and also by another navy in need of a versatile aircraft.

The sale of the Sea Kings will be marketed across the world including at major defense expositions in the United Kingdom and Canada this month, Clare said.

Submissions close Nov. 1.

Until their sale, the Sea King helicopters remain operational by 817 Squadron at the navy s Albatross Air Station in Nowra, New South Wales. Albatross is the home base for the Fleet Air Arm s four helicopter squadrons and for the Navy Aviation Group, which coordinates all of the navy s aviation activities.

The navy has been flying Sea Kings since it bought 12 Westland Sea King Mk 50s in 1974. Six were lost in accidents before the remaining six were upgraded in 1995 and 1996 to Mk 50A standard.

One of the upgraded Sea Kings was lost in 2005. A former British navy Sea King HAS5 was delivered to the Australian navy in 1996 and was designated an Mk 50B.

To keep its own Sea Kings flying, the Australian navy has purchase and cannibalized other navies Sea Kings, including five former Egyptian Sea Kings that were stripped in the United Kingdom to be used for spare parts.

In 2005, Australia also bought three Sea Kings from the British navy to be used for spare parts.

The Westland WS-61 Sea King, whose first flight was in 1969, is a British license-built version of the American Sikorsky S-61 helicopter of the same name, built by Westland Helicopters. Power is by Rolls-Royce Gnome engines, which are license-built General Electric T58s.

Australia s Sea Kings replaced the navy s Westland Wessex HAS31 as the main anti-submarine warfare helicopter from 1974.

The Sea Kings typically were fitted with Racal ARI 5955/2 lightweight radar, a Racal Navigation System RNS252, Racal Doppler 91 velocity sensors, ADF Bendix/King KDF 806A receivers and Tacan AN/ARN 118 receiver-transmitters.

In June, Clare made the announcement of an impending sell-off by the end of the year. He also said a sixth helicopter, Shark 07, would be handed over to the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Nowra, New South Wales.

The museum was formally set up in 1990, although the depot had been an informal last resting area for many aircraft since the mid-1970s.

Other naval aircraft at the museum -- 34 in all -- include a McDonnell Douglas A-4G Skyhawk, a Douglas C-47 Dakota, a Hawker Hunter F6, a Mig-15, a Mig-17 and a Sopwith Pup.

The museum s helicopter exhibits include Bell Sioux and Iroquois helicopters, a Sikorsky S-55 and a Bristol Sycamore HR 50/51.


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Westland sea king in AUFleet Air Arm (RAN)

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