Sikorsky S-61

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Sikorsky S-61 / H-3 Sea King
Sikorsky SH-3H "Sea King" of the US Navy Squadron HS-15
Sikorsky SH-3H "Sea King" of the US Navy HS-12
Type: Anti-submarine, SAR and multipurpose helicopters
Design country:

United StatesUnited States United States


Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

First flight:

March 11, 1959



Number of pieces:

approx. 1,500

The Sikorsky H-3 Sea King or S-61 , also known as the Jolly Green Giant in its SAR version , is a multi-purpose helicopter equipped with two shaft turbines from the US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation . It is used by the United States Navy and numerous other troops and states.


SH-3A over the USS Kearsarge in the early 1960s
The legendary "sixty-six" , a SH-3D, during the recovery of the landing capsule from Apollo 10

The Sea King had its maiden flight in 1959 and was in service with the US Navy from June 1961. From the beginning it was intended for ship-based use. The five main rotor blades can be folded hydraulically to reduce the space required by the helicopter in the ship hangar. The main area of ​​application was the fight against submarines ( English Anti-Submarine Warfare , ASW). It could also be used for anti-ship, search and rescue , transport, communication and early warning tasks. In the US Navy he was replaced in the ASW and SAR role by the SH-60F Sea Hawk from the early 1990s . Only the United States Marine Corps uses the helicopter for training and test purposes.

The Sea King was built in the UK by Westland Helicopters Ltd. manufactured under license who developed a modified version for the British Royal Navy . This variant is equipped with British Rolls-Royce- Bristol-Gnome-Turbines as well as British avionics and ASW equipment. The British Sea King first flew in 1969 and was operational a year later. It was also used by the Royal Air Force and sold around the world. Helicopters of this variant were manufactured under license in Japan (by Mitsubishi ) and Italy (by Agusta ).

The countries to which the Sea King has been exported include Argentina , Australia , Belgium ( Force Aérienne Belge ), Brazil , Canada , Egypt , Germany ( German Navy ), India , Japan , Malaysia , Norway , Pakistan , Qatar ( Qatar Emiri Air Force ), Spain and Great Britain.

Armament and equipment of the Sea King vary with the respective operational role. A typical armament consists of four torpedoes , four depth charges or two anti-ship missiles of the type Sea Eagle or Exocet . In SAR operations, the cabin offers space for 22 people or nine flatbeds and two medical personnel. Up to 28 soldiers can be transported when transporting troops.

The Sea King can land on the water and, in an emergency, move on the water with just one of the two turbines.

A copy of SH-3D, the number 66, the helicopter Season 4 of the US Navy, became a celebrity than as part of the Apollo space flight program of NASA in the Pacific gewasserten astronauts barg.

Some Sea King with special equipment and special paintwork serve as the official helicopters of the US President . They are operated by the United States Marine Corps . The machine's call sign is Marine One when the President is on board.

Special flight performance

On May 31st and June 1st, 1967, two Sikorsky HH-3 Jolly Green Giant made the first helicopter non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 30 hours and 40 minutes . They were refueled nine times by Hercules planes.

Sea King of the German Navy

Of the 22 Westland Sea King Mk. 41 procured by the German Navy , 21 are still in service with Marine Aviation Squadron 5 . A Sea King (tactical registration: 89 + 59) crashed into the North Sea on November 17, 1998. After a main gearbox damage, it was supposed to be transported to Kiel for repair - hanging under a Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopter of the German Army . After a few nautical miles, the Sea King swayed to such an extent that the transport harness on which the helicopter was hanging had to be cut to prevent both machines from crashing. When it hit the water surface from around 100 m, the 89 + 59 was completely destroyed. Another helicopter (89 + 61) was previously replaced by a new Sea King after an accident. The old 89 + 61 is still used as a SAG (school and training device) in technician training. Since 2006, the engines of the German Sea King have received an increase in performance.

From 2020, it will be replaced piece by piece by the NH90 Sea Lion marine transport helicopter (details here ).

Commissioned from 1972 to 1975, the helicopters have already been modernized several times. This modernization process will continue for the next few years, as the possible successor helicopter MH90-NG , which was to replace the Sea King as NFH as early as 1997, is further delayed. Legal requirements and no longer available spare parts for the sometimes very old systems and devices make it necessary to replace them with new and more modern devices. One of the main tasks is sea ​​rescue ; it is also used as an on-board helicopter for the class 702 task force supply . Helicopters were also in action in this role in Africa (Djibouti, Horn of Africa, Ivory Coast), in Asia (tsunami catastrophe) and as part of UNIFIL off Lebanon. The armament with guided missiles was given up. So the Sea King only has self-protection through chaff , flare and an M3M machine gun . In addition, the MFG 5 specializes in operations in the context of KSK operations .

A successor model is urgently needed for the aging Sea King, also because of increasing maintenance costs. As potential candidates NH90-NG, the Navy version of the NATO helicopter apply NH90 of NHIndustries and the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone a military derivative of, Sikorsky S-92 . The most likely solution is "18 naval helicopters derived from the NH90 program". This was agreed in a letter of intent between the Federal Ministry of Defense and the Eurocopter Group in March 2013 as compensation for a lower purchase of the Eurocopter Tiger by the German armed forces. In November 2014 it became known that an order for the NH 90 is imminent and that the planned number of items will be adjusted.

However, the naval leadership considered at the time to continue to fly the helicopter until 2026. The fewer helicopters that are ready for use, the fewer flying hours are possible. Some of the helicopters have been and are being cannibalized to make other helicopters airworthy.

The Naval Aviation Squadron 5 moved in 2012 and since then, like the Naval Aviation Squadron 3, has been based at the Naval Aviation Base Nordholz . This means that two squadrons are operated at one location. With the relocation of MFG 5, the 3rd season ( Sea Lynx ) of MFG 3 was incorporated into MFG 5 as the 3rd season. There is a fixed-wing wing and a rotary wing wing there.

Sea King in Canada

The Canadian Navy bought 41 Sea Kings in 1963. The helicopters were very modern at the time and proved themselves well, and they were also popular with their crews. The Canadians developed a technique to land the large helicopters on small ship decks using a winch to pull the machine down. This earned them the nickname Crazy Canucks .

CH-124A on board the HMCS provider

As the service life increased, the Sea King became more unreliable and difficult to maintain. Twelve have now crashed, with ten people dead. Every Sea King now requires 30 hours of maintenance for an hour of flight and is therefore unavailable 40 percent of the time. At the end of 2003, the entire remaining fleet had to stay on the ground for a few weeks after two engines had engine failures within a short period of time.

Attempts to replace the helicopters have so far failed due to political entanglements. In 1992, the then Conservative government ordered EH-101 helicopters to replace the Sea Kings. After a change of government in 1993, the Liberal Democrats canceled the contract and paid a contract fine of 500 million Canadian dollars.

From November 2008, the Canadian CH-124 Sea King will be replaced by 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters from Sikorsky. These represent a marine variant of the H-92 Superhawk developed for Canada .

Canadian Sea King pilots have dedicated a song to their helicopter that is sung to the tune of the 1970s hit Seasons in the Sun :

"Goodbye papa, please pray for me,
My helicopter's crashing in the sea.
We had joy, we had fun, we had Sea Kings in the sun
But the engines are on fire and the Sea Kings must retire "


Sikorsky S-61L
Los Angeles County Sheriff's S-61

S-61 (civil versions)

Transport helicopters for up to 30 people with 1350 WPS (1005 kW) GE-CT58-140 engines, 13 were built
S-61L Mk II
Improved S-61L including CT58-110 engines
Amphibious version of the S-61L
S-61N Mk II
Improved S-61L including CT58-110 engines
S-61 payloader
900 kg lighter version of the S-61L for transporting heavy loads
S-61 Shortsky
Modifications made from S-61L / N, shortened fuselage for more payload

Sikorsky H-3

Sea King

VH-3D Marine One
HH-3A rescue helicopter in the Vietnam War
SH-3H with diving sonar
Prototype of a submarine helicopter for the US Navy
Pre-production machines, seven were built
Anti-submarine helicopters for the US Navy with AQS-10 or AQS-13 diving sonar and 1,250 WPS T58-GE-8B engines, 255 were built
Conversion of twelve SH-3A to rescue shot down crews in the Vietnam War . Expansion of anti-submarine equipment, installation of armor and machine guns.
Conversion of three SH-3A as transport helicopters for the US Air Force
NH-3A (S-61F)
Conversion of an SH-3A as a test helicopter for high speeds
Conversion and equipping of eight SH-3A for mine clearing
VIP transporter for the US Army and the US Marine Corps. Eight were newly built, one YHSS-2 and one SH-3A were converted.
later designation of the CH-3A
SH-3A with 1,400 WPS T58-GE-10 engines, 79 were built
VIP vans for the U.S. Marine Corps, 11 were built
improved transport version, 105 were converted from SH-3A / D
Greatly improved anti-submarine version, 145 were converted from SH-3A / D / G
Early warning version of the Spanish Navy
Transport version, conversion from SH-3H
Conversion of two SH-3H to test the sensors of the later SH-60 Seahawk

Jolly Green Giant / Pelican

US Coast Guard HH-3F
Transport helicopter, redesigned fuselage with rear loading ramp, 46 were built
CH-3C with 1,500 WPS T58-GE-5 engines, 45 were newly built, 41 CH-3C were retrofitted
HH-3E Jolly Green Giant
Equipping 50 CH-3E with armor, armament and an aerial refueling tube to rescue shot down crews
HH-3F Pelican
SAR helicopters for the United States Coast Guard based on the CH-3E, 40 were built. In 1990 the USCG took over and modified another six CH-3E from the USAF.

Agusta S-61

Agusta ASH-3D
Agusta AS-61R
License version of the H-3, a total of 93 were built
SAR version analogous to the HH-3F, 36 were built
AS-61N-1 Silver
S-61N with a shortened fuselage, four were built
VIP transporter
Multi-purpose version similar to the SH-3G, conversion from ASH-3D
Anti-submarine helicopter
VIP transporter
Anti-submarine helicopters, 14 were built

United Aircraft of Canada CH-124

CH-124 Sea King
Anti-submarine helicopters based on the SH-3A, 41 were produced by Sikorsky but assembled by United Aircraft of Canada
CH-124 with modernized avionics
CH-124A without diving sonar but with MAD probe; five were converted into transport helicopters in 2005
Equipped six CH-124Bs in 1991/92 with greatly improved anti-submarine equipment. With the end of the Cold War, the conversion of further CH-124s was no longer necessary. later the CH-124B2 were converted into transport helicopters.
Modification of a CH-124 for test purposes
unofficial designation of four CH-124s converted into multi-purpose helicopters

Mitsubishi HSS-2

Mitsubishi HSS-2B
SAR helicopters based on the SH-3A, 18 were built under license by Mitsubishi
Anti-submarine helicopters based on the SH-3A, 55 were built
Anti-submarine helicopters based on the SH-3D, 28 were built
Anti-submarine helicopters based on the SH-3H, 23 were built

Westland Sea King

Sea King HAS.1
Sea King HAR.3 of the RAF
Sea King HC.4
Sea King AEW.2A
Sea King HAS. 6
Belgian Sea King Mk.48
Sea King Mk.50 of the RAN
Commando Mk.1
Cockpit of a Sikorsky S-61N

The following single-digit series were developed exclusively for the British Armed Forces , where they served for 49 years. Most copies were taken out of service by March 2016. An exception were some Sea King ASaC.7, which were still in use until September 2018.

Sea King HAS.1
Royal Navy (RN) anti-submarine helicopter with British electronics, first flight in 1969
Sea King HAS.2
Improved anti-submarine version of the RN
Sea King AEW.2A
Conversion of two HAS.2 into early warning helicopters
Sea King HAR. 3
SAR version of the Royal Air Force (RAF)
Sea King HAR.3A
Modernized version of the HAR.3. the RAF
Sea King HC.4
Troopship RN for 28 soldiers with fixed landing gear, originally for the Royal Marines designed
Sea King HAS. 5
Improved anti-submarine version of the RN
Sea King HAR. 5
Conversion of HAS.5 to SAR helicopters for the RN
Sea King AEW. 5
Conversion of three HAS.5 into early warning helicopters for the RN
Sea King HU.5
Conversion of HAS.5 to multi-purpose helicopters for the RN
Sea King HAS. 6
Improved anti-submarine version for the RN
Sea King HAS.6 (CR)
Conversion of five HAS.6 into multi-purpose helicopters for the RN
Sea King ASaC. 7
Early warning helicopters for the RN , developed after the Falklands War

The following two-digit Sea King series and the Commando versions, with the exception of the 4X, were all intended for export and are partly still in service (2018).

Sea King Mk.41
SAR version for the German Navy , 23 were built
Sea King Mk.4X
two helicopters for testing by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough
Sea King Mk.42
HAS.1 anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy , twelve were built
Sea King Mk.42A
HAS.2 anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy, three were built
Sea King Mk.42B
Mk.42 of the Indian Navy equipped for the combat against sea targets
Sea King Mk.42C
SAR version of the Indian Navy
Sea King Mk.43
SAR version of the Norwegian Air Force , ten were built
Sea King Mk.43A
Modernized Mk.43
Sea King Mk.43B
Modernized Mk.43
Sea King Mk.45
HAS.1 anti-submarine helicopters for the Pakistani Navy, six built (111th Squadron, Mehran)
Sea King Mk.45A
a HAS.1 for Pakistan
Sea King Mk.47
HAS.2 anti-submarine helicopters for Egypt, six built
Sea King Mk.48
SAR version for today's Belgian air component , five were built
Sea King Mk.50
Anti-submarine helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy , ten built
Sea King Mk.50A
Anti-submarine helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy, two were built
Sea King Mk.50B
Modernized Mk.50 / Mk.50A
Commando Mk.1
Troop transport for Egypt
Commando Mk.2
Troop transport for Egypt
Commando Mk.2A
Troop transport for Qatar
Commando Mk.2B
VIP transporter for Egypt
Commando Mk.2C
VIP transporter for Qatar
Commando Mk.2E
Eloka version of the Egyptian Air Force
Commando Mk.3
Version for Qatar equipped for combating sea targets

Military users

Sikorsky SH-3 / HH-3 and Agusta ASH-3 / AS-61

ArgentinaArgentina Argentina
Fuerza Aérea Argentina : 2 , 1 S-61N, 1 S-61R
Argentine Navy : 16 , 1 HSS-2, 6 SH-3D, 5 S-61D-4, 2 ASH-3D, 2 ASH-3H
Helicopteros Marinos: 2 , 1 S-61L, 1 S-61N
BrazilBrazil Brazil
Marinha do Brasil : 18 , 6 S-61D-3, 8 SH-3D, 4 AS-61D-3
Aeroleo Taxi Aereo: 5 1 S-61N, 4 S-61N.Mk2
BruneiBrunei Brunei
Brunei Shell Petroleum: 8 S-61N
DenmarkDenmark Denmark
Flyvevåbnet : 9 , 8 S-61 A-1, 1 S-61 A-5
Air Greenland : 13 10 S-61N, 3 S-61N.Mk2
IndiaIndia India
Navy: SH-3 Sea Kings.
IraqIraq Iraq
Iraqi Air Force: 6 ? AS-3H / TS
IranIran Iran
Iranian Navy: 20 ? ASH-3D
IrelandIreland Ireland
Garda Cósta na hÉireann : 6 , 3 S-61N, 3 S-61N.Mk2
Aer Chór na hÉireann : 1 S-61H-3
IndiaIndia India
Indian Navy : 6 UH-3H
ItalyItaly Italy
Italian Air Force : 37 35 AS-61R, 2 ASH-3D / TS VIP
Italian Navy : 36 ASH-3D
JapanJapan Japan
Marine Self-Defense Forces : Sea Kings built under license from Mitsubishi
CanadaCanada Canada
Royal Canadian Navy : 41 , 41 CH-124 / CH-124A Sea King (S-61B / CHSS-2), 5 CH-124B (converted CH-124)
Canadian Coast Guard : 1 S-61N
Cougar Helicopters : 4 , 2 S-61N, 2 S-61N.Mk2
Hayes Forest Services : 3 S-61N
VIH Helicopters : 10 , 4 S-61N, 4 S-61N.Mk2, 2 S-61L
LebanonLebanon Lebanon
Akhdar Dayem Association: 3 S-61N.Mk2
MalaysiaMalaysia Malaysia
Malaysian Air Force : 45 , 43 S-61A4, 2 AS-61N-1 (2015 partial surrender to the army, 1 crash in 2013)
Malaysian Army : 12 S-61A4 (taken over by the Air Force)
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
KLM Helikopters: 10 , 4 S-61N, 6 S-61N.Mk2
NorwayNorway Norway
Helicopter service: 13 , 6 S-61N, 7 S-61N.Mk2
PakistanPakistan Pakistan
Pakistan International Airlines : 3 S-61N
PeruPeru Peru
Marina de Guerra del Peru: 9 to 13 6 to 10 ASH-3D, 3 UH-3H
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia
ThailandThailand Thailand
Thai Aviation Service : 5 , 3 S-61N, 2 S-61N.Mk2
TunisiaTunisia Tunisia
Air Force: 16 , 4 CH-3C, 12 CH-3E
SpainSpain Spain
Armada Española : 18 SH-3D
INAER : 2 , 1 S-61N, 1 S-61N.Mk2
VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela
Ejercito de Venezuela: 4 AS-61A-4
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
HM Coastguard : 8 S-61N.Mk2
Brintel Helicopters : 7 , 2 S-61N, 4 S-61N.Mk2, 1 S-61L
British Airways Helicopters: 18 S-61N.Mk2
British Caledonian Helicopter: 6 1 S-61N, 5 S-61N.Mk2
British European Airways : 5 S-61N.Mk2
Bristow: 17 , 5 S-61N, 12 S-61N.Mk2
Ministry of Defense / Westland : 5 , 3 S-61D-1 (HAS1), 2 S-61L SH-3D, test vehicle for the Westland license building
United StatesUnited States United States
United States Air Force : 138 3 CH-3A / HSS-2, 3 CH-3B, 74 CH-3C, 45 CH-3E, 13 HH-3E
United States Coast Guard : 40 HH-3F Pelican
United States Marine Corps : 19 8 VH-3A, 11 VH-3D (Presidential Flight, callsign "Marine 1" when transporting the President)
United States Navy : 334 , 10 XHSS-2, 245 SH-3A, 79 SH-3D
US Department of State : up to 110 S-61T Triton (used copies of various series for Afghanistan)
Brown Helicopter : 2 S-61N.Mk2
Carson Helicopters : 45 , 15 HSS-2, 12 S-61N, 7 S-61N.Mk2, 2 S-61L, 3 CH-3, 4 SH-3D, 1 HH-3F
Chicago Helicopter Airways : 1 S-61L
Croman Corp : 18 S-61, 6 HSS-2, 2 S-61L, 2 S-61N, 3 S-61N.Mk2, 2 SH-3A, 1 CH-3B, 1 CH-3C, 1 CH-3E
Los Angeles Airways : 5 S-61L

Mitsubishi S-61

JapanJapan Japan
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces : 185 , 55 HSS-2, 28 HSS-2A, 82 HSS-2B, 3 S-61A, 4 S-61A-1, 13 S-61AH, 2 S-61L

Westland Sea King / Commando

EgyptEgypt Egypt
Luftwaffe: 28 , 5 Commando Mk1, 23 Commando Mk2A
Navy: 6 Sea King Mk47 (only 5 operated)
AustraliaAustralia Australia
Navy: 12 , 10 Sea King Mk50, 2 Sea King Mk50A
BelgiumBelgium Belgium
Belgian Navy: 5 Sea King Mk48
GermanyGermany Germany
German Navy : 23 Sea King Mk41
IndiaIndia India
Indian Navy: 33 , 10 Sea King Mk42, 2 Sea King Mk42A, 21 Sea King Mk42
QatarQatar Qatar
Qatar Emiri Air Force : 12 Commando Mk3
NorwayNorway Norway
Luftforsvaret 14 Sea King Mk43
PakistanPakistan Pakistan
Pakistan Navy: 10 , 8 Sea King Mk45 / Mk45A (HAS5), 1 Sea King HAR3A, 1 Sea King HC.4
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Royal Air Force : 25 , 19 Seaking HAR3, 6 Sea King HAR3
Royal Navy : 198 155 Sea King HAS1 / HAS2 / HAS2A / HAS5 / HAS6, 43 Sea King HC4, 10 Sea King AEW2A (converted HAS2), 9 Sea King AEW7 / ASaC7 (converted AEW2A)
QinetiQ : 1 Sea King HAS5

Technical specifications

Sketch of the SH-3H Sea King
Parameter Data
crew SH-3H / D 4 men crew (2 pilots, 2 sensor officers) + 3 passengers
UH-3H / SH-3G up to 15 passengers
Mk 41 4-man crew (2 pilots, 1 LOPO (aircraft operations officer), 1 on-board mechanic)
Sensors various sonar buoys and pyrotechnic equipment
drive SH-3H / UH-3H 2 × General Electric T-58-GE-402 turbo shaft engines with 1,500  shaft horsepower each
SH-3D 2 × General Electric T58-GE-10 turbo shaft engines with 1,400 shaft horsepower each
SH-3G 2 × General Electric T58-GE-8F turbo-shaft engines with 1,250 shaft horsepower each
Westland 2 × Rolls-Royce Gnome (Mks. 1 & 2 H1400-1, Mk. 4 H1400-2) with 1,600 shaft horsepower each
Flight performance SH-3D / H helicopters reach speeds of up to 120 knots (222.24 km / h) for up to 5.5 hours


Weapons or containers can be attached to the side load stations. Mountings for movable machine guns can be installed in the doors and windows.

Internal (mounted on swiveling rotating ball mounts)

External (ordnance for a maximum of 400 kg on two external load carriers)


Anti-ship missile

Depth charges

  • 1 × B57 (20 kT nuclear depth charge)
  • 4 × Mk.11 (160 kg depth charge)

Self protection

Active measures

  • 1 × AN / ALE-37 / A external decoy launcher container with 120 decoy cartridges (e.g. MJU-8A / B heat flares with 38 mm width and length)

See also


  • Yves Le Bec: The true story of the helicopter: from 1486-2005 . Publishing house Jean Duvret, Chavannes-près-Renens 2005, ISBN 2-8399-0100-5 .
  • Siegfried Guard: Westland Sea King Mk. 41. F-40: The Aircraft of the Bundeswehr, Volume 37, BMVD Verlag.
  • Llody Horgan: A Sea King doesn't give up. In: Rotorblatt No. 2/2018, pp. 14-17

Web links

Commons : Sikorsky S-61  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b (accessed on May 1, 2020)
  2. s. Le Bec, page 50
  3. - Official page for the MH90-NG, accessed on May 10, 2010
  4. Agreement to adjust the number of items for the Tiger support helicopter and the NH90 NATO helicopter., March 15, 2013, accessed on April 28, 2013 .
  5. von der Leyen ends helicopter chaos. SPON, November 26, 2014, accessed January 2, 2015 .
  7. CBC News Story: Requiem for the Sea King (English)
  8. CTV News: PM defends record on grounded Sea King choppers ( Memento from May 27, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  9. CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter ( Memento from March 18, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Information from the manufacturer about the CH-148 Cyclone (English)
  10. Sea King helicopters ends 49 years of service, UK Defense Journal, September 21, 2018
  11. brazilian H-3
  12. The NAWSARH Project. ( Memento of June 7, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Royal Norwegian Ministry of Justice and the Police, accessed on July 23, 2010 (English).
  13. Dalløkken, Per Erlie. De fem candidates . Teknisk Ukeblad , June 5, 2009, accessed July 23, 2010 (Norwegian).
  14. Pakistan Navy commissions one ATR-72 MPA, two Sea King helicopters, Janes, December 17, 2017