Sea King HAR3/3A
The Westland Sea King HAR3 entered RAF service in 1978 and the 3A in 1996; both marks of aircraft are used in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role.
- Engines: Two Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshafts
- Thrust: 1,389shp each
- Max speed: 125kts
- Length: 16m
- Max altitude: 10,000ft
- Span: 18.9m
- Aircrew: 4
The aircraft are operated from six locations around the UK, with each location supporting two aircraft. There is also a detachment of two HAR3s providing SAR cover in the Falkland Islands. The SAR squadrons provide 24-hour cover around the UK and the Falkland Islands throughout each year. Each squadron maintains a 15-minutes readiness state during daylight hours and a 45-minutes readiness state during the hours of darkness.
For the search aspect of its role, the Sea King is able to operate to precise navigational standards and is fitted with a multi-band homing system, satellite navigation systems, a search radar, a comprehensive avionics suite and a large selection of radios. For its rescue role, the aircraft is equipped with a hydraulically-operated main rescue hoist, an electrically-operated emergency rescue hoist and electrical connections suitable for powering medical equipment such as incubators. The SAR fleet of Sea Kings are fitted with a video/infrared detection pod, which is similar to the equipment used by police helicopters, to help search for casualties.
All SAR crews are trained to operate using night-vision goggles over unfamiliar terrain. The standard SAR crew is made up of four members: two pilots, one of whom is the aircraft captain, a radar operator who acts as the winch operator at the rescue scene and a winch man, normally trained to paramedic standard, who will supply immediate first-aid and recovery services at the rescue site.
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.
The capable and versatile Chinook is one of the most recognisable RAF aircraft.