Five Westland-built Sea King Mk48 helicopters were delivered to the then Belgian Air Force in November 1976. Today, three of these venerable Rolls-Royce Gnome-engined helicopters remain in Belgian Air Component service, operated as they have always been by 40 Squadron at Koksijde on the North Sea coast. Their primary role
is search and rescue. The type is being replaced by the new NHIndustries NH90, but the Sea Kings - two of which have already been retired - will carry on flying with the Air Component until 2018. The fleet has notched up somewhere in the region of 60,000 flying hours over the course of four decades, and even more impressively given the demanding nature of rescue helicopter operations has suffered no airframe losses in that time.