India interested in used RCAF Sea Kings : Report
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will visit India later this month and the Indians are apparently interested in used Canadian military equipment. Specifically, the RCAF’s Sea King helicopters, according to India’s Financial Express newspaper.
To meet the urgent helicopter requirement of the Indian Navy, India is expected to discuss acquiring Sea King CH-124 helicopters during the visit, sources told the newspaper. “At this time Canada is in the process of decommissioning four of its Sea King CH-124 helicopters,” one of the sources told the Express. “These four have very little hours of flying logged in, and four that were decommissioned last December were recently upgraded.”
India’s Sea King fleet has reached the end of its operational life and there is the potential for the Canadian helicopters to bridge the gap between now and the time new helicopters are purchased, according to the sources.
India’s plan to buy 16 S-70B helicopters is stalled and other procurements to purchase more than 100 maritime helicopters are also being delayed for various reasons.
The Sea King Mk.42 is licensed produced by the UK-based GKN Westland, from Sikorsky – a US company. The Sea King Mk.42 forms the backbone of the Naval Air Arm’s ASW capability and has purchased more examples from GKN Westland than any other overseas customer. Atleast 42 variants were delivered in total. It is estimated that only about thirty are still in service.
Compared to the small size of the Hughes, the Seaking is on the other extreme. It is as large as a small Bus and when it flies its leaves an indelible impression on the spectator! The Seaking was manufactured by the Westland company in Britain and was procured to fulfill an ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) requirement in the Navy.
The first of the Seakings were procured in the early 70s. On 3 Nov 1970, Two Seakings were handed over the Indian High Commissioner for UK. The two Helicopters IN-501 and IN-502 were commissioned as INAS 330 Squadron in 1971. Soon the first batch of 12 Seakings were operational.
Over the years, the Seakings not only formed the ASW squadron on the aircraft carriers, but became the ASW chopper of choice – equipping all Indian manufactured ships like the Godavari class frigates and the Delhi class destroyers. The Seaking also became the preferred mount for the Marcos (Marine Commandos).