ROYAL NAVY SEA KING ASaC7
Showing the versatility of the Sea King, the ASaC (Airborne Surveillance and Control) Mk7 variant provides the Royal Navy with its 'eyes in the sky', in the Navy's words 'searching for aerial threats to the fleet or suspicious movements on the ground in support of land forces'. The so-called 'bag' mounted on the starboard fuselage side contains the Searchwater 2000 surveillance radar, capable of providing wide-area surveillance over either land or sea. The Fleet Air Arm received its first hastily-modified Sea Kings for the airborne early warning role soon after the Falklands War of 1982. They have been upgraded several times since, the most recent major modernisation programme producing the current AsAC7, flown by three squadrons - 849, 854 and 857 - shore-based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall. Last summer came news that a small number of 849's examples will have their service lives extended until the third quarter of 2018, when replacement will come in the form of Merlin HM2 helicopters fitted with a 'roll-on, roll-off' mission system. These AsAC7s will therefore be the last Sea Kings in British military service.