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Aircraft of the RAF

Sea King

    Sea King

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  • Twin-engined search and rescue helicopter
  • Can carry up to 19 passengers


The RAF operates the Sea King in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role, and the big yellow helicopters have become a familiar sight on television news programmes as they carry out rescue operations all around the United Kingdom. To assist in this role, the Sea King is fitted with advanced all-weather search and navigation equipment and a computer to assist positioning. In the hover, it can be 'flown' by the winch operator, who can position the rescue harness with great accuracy. The Sea King can carry 18 passengers and has a radius of action of 280 miles.

Sea King Specifications
Two Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshafts

55ft 9.75in (17.01m)

Rotor Diameter:
62ft 0in (18.90m)

Top Speed:
143mph (230km/h) at sea level


Crew of four and provision for up to 19 passengers

Developed by Westland from the American Sikorsky S-61, the first of 15 RAF dedicated SAR aircraft entered service in September 1977. For the next fifteen years Sea King and Wessex helicopters shared search and rescue duties until a further batch of six updated Sea King Mark 3A aircraft were ordered in 1992 to replace the SAR Wessexes.

Aircraft are based in pairs at locations around the UK as well as in the Falkland Islands.


  • Search and Rescue. The location and evacuation of people in emergency situations.




Long fuselage with boat-hull bottom and sponsons either side of the cabin into which the main undercarriage wheels retract (1). Engines mounted above the cabin with the five-blade main rotor on top (2). Short tail section stepped up behind the single rear wheel. Six-blade tail rotor on port side of the short stabiliser. A radar 'dustbin' is located on the top of the fuselage behind the engines (3). Aircraft are also painted in a bright yellow colour scheme to aid visibility.

Sea King recognition features


Merlin HC3  Dominie


Date Last Updated : Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:27 PM

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