The Sea King, bought in 1961, was initially designed to further the eyes and ears of Canadian ships as an anti-submarine warfare helicopter. Over the years, submarine hunting has become less of a priority and the Sea King has been adapted to other roles.
Sea King Overview
Domestically, Sea Kings have increasingly become responsible for search and rescue operations, disaster relief, fisheries patrols, environmental surveillance and drug interdiction. The Sea King has also been instrumental in international operations of peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.
12 Wing provides Sea King helicopter air detachments, known as HELAIRDETS, to Her Majesty's Canadian Ships on the east and west coasts as an integral part of the ship's surface and sub-surface surveillance and weapons systems.
HELAIRDETS are embarked whenever their respective ship is deployed. They frequently participate in international operations with allied forces, combined operations with either Naval or Army elements of the Canadian Forces and national operations with other Canadian governmental agencies
The bulk of the original Sea Kings have been extensively modified, incorporating an acoustic system that uses sonobuoys instead of a dipping sonar, a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), and a new tactical navigation system. This equipment has enabled crews to become familiar with procedures that allow them to localize and track underwater contacts without being detected.
A standard Sea King crew comprises two pilots, a tactical coordinator (TACCO) and an airborne electronic sensor operator (AES Op). For some operational missions, an extra TACCO or AES Op may be added to assist with operations in the back-end of the helicopter.
As part of the Maritime Helicopter Project, the replacement aircraft for the Sea King has been identified as the CH-148 Sikorsky Cyclone.
The Maritime Helicopter Project is a complex program that involves the delivery of 28 state-of-the-art, combat-capable CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, associated logistical and in-service support, spare parts, as well as modifications to the Halifax-class ships and construction of a new training facility equipped with a full training suite of flight, mission and maintenance simulators.
The new CH-148 Cyclone, in its final configuration, will be at the forefront of modern technology and one of the most capable maritime helicopters in the world. It will conduct surface and subsurface surveillance and control, utility and search and rescue missions and will also provide tactical transport for national and international security efforts.
Progress continues to be made on delivery of the complex and sophisticated weapon system, and project milestones continue to be achieved as the Government, the Canadian Forces and Sikorsky collectively work towards delivering fully compliant helicopters.