Board helicopter

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Landing of an on-board helicopter on the deck of a ship

An on-board helicopter ( BHS ) is a helicopter that is carried on board ships and used from there. There are civil and military on- board helicopters.

Tasks and types

On-board helicopters can be used for a large number of different tasks. This includes the transport of personnel and material and observation from the air.

Military helicopters are also used for submarine hunting , locating and combating surface targets, and for amphibious warfare . On-board helicopters in the anti-submarine role can have radar devices , sonar location systems in the form of diving sonar or sonoboys and anti- submarine torpedoes . Helicopters to combat surface targets can be equipped with missiles or machine guns. Special roles for on-board helicopters are clearing sea ​​mines and early warning. During the Falklands War , for example, the British Royal Navy decided to equip helicopters with radar for early warning against aircraft because no other early warning aircraft were available.

During amphibious landings , helicopters transport troops and material. Combat helicopters with guns and missiles can also be used for support.

A number of suitable models are available as on-board helicopters. Your selection depends on the intended tasks and the size of the existing flight deck . While civil helicopters on yachts and special ships are mostly used in the very narrow range of tasks of transport and sometimes surveillance, military helicopters have a wider range of tasks. Therefore, in addition to transport helicopters for tactical tasks, multi-purpose helicopters are often used on warships, which differ in size and equipment.


Since helicopters can take off and land vertically, they do not need a runway and can be carried not only by aircraft carriers, but also by smaller watercraft that are equipped for this. On-board helicopters are used on warships , various special civil ships and large yachts . The following platforms are particularly suitable:

Technical requirements of the helicopters and platforms

On-board helicopters and their platforms must be technically set up for on-board operations. Ships need to have a permanent or carry several helicopters and can employ a for each type adequate landing deck feature and necessary for the maintenance facilities.

The landing deck can have one or more landing places ( spots ). The landing decks are equipped with safety devices that can be used to secure helicopters in rough seas. This includes lashing eyes and, for some types, a landing grid into which helicopters equipped for this purpose can snap with a hook (harpoon). The facilities on the flight deck include a refueling system, and on some ships there is also a facility for refueling helicopters in hovering flight (Helicopter In-Flight Refueling, HIFR). On-board helicopters must be designed for this type of refueling.

Most ships with on-board helicopters are equipped with a hangar . In order to be able to move helicopters safely into the hangar even in rough seas, many ships have special moving systems tailored to the intended type of helicopter. It must be possible to fold the rotor blades of the helicopters in order to be able to accommodate them in the ship hangar. On ships without a hangar, the on-board helicopters must be protected from the weather in some other way.

Flight operations are supported by various approach and landing systems. This can include an approach radar, a horizon bar, or a visual glide path indicator (GPI). On some ships, flight operations are controlled and monitored from a control room above the landing deck (tower).

Multinational operating standards

To ensure that helicopters can safely take off and land on other than their own mother platform, there are a number of procedures that have been established between different navies in so-called HOSTAC regulations (HOSTAC: Helicopter Operation of Ships Other Than Carriers ) and refer to ships without a continuous flight deck. 51 Marines from NATO countries, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific region and, since 2005, the Near and Middle East participate in HOSTAC's work.

Take-off and landing procedures and standards for signaling, operating equipment and deck lighting are regulated. In addition, general limits are set for the wind above the flight deck, within which flight operations with third-party helicopters are permitted. A more recent subject of regulation are the procedures for night flight operations with night vision devices.


  • Duppler, Jörg (Red.): Naval aviators. From the Naval Airship Division to the Naval Aviation Division . Ed .: German Marine Institute . ES Mittler & Sohn, Herford 1988, ISBN 3-8132-0295-X .
  • Joint Publication 3-04, Joint Shipboard Helicopter Operations. Instructions for the operation of helicopters aboard ships of the US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Army and US Coast Guard. available online (PDF; 800 kB).

Web links

Commons : Ship helicopters and landing pads  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Definition in the marine glossary of the German Maritime Institute , accessed on June 28, 2019
  2. Jörg Duppler (editor); German Marine Institute (Ed.): Marineflieger. From the Naval Airship Division to the Naval Aviation Division. ES Mittler & Sohn, Herford 1988, ISBN 3-8132-0295-X .
  3. Westland Sea King AEW2 and ASaC.7 ( Memento of the original from July 17, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ↑ Possible uses of the BHS AH-1W Super Cobra of the United States Marine Corps (English).
  5. NHI, subpage Potentials / Compatibility with the ships
  6. Examples of take-off and landing systems at C²I² Systems (English).
  7. ^ Thies Hofmann: The work in the area of ​​the HOSTAC WG - international cooperation on an operational level. In: Marineforum. 10-2012, p. 22 ff.