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Developed as a licence-built version of the Sikorsky S-61, the Westland Sea King was once a common sight over the UK. The Sea King served with both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy as the UK's search and rescue helicopter from 1978 to 2016 and was the type flown by the Prince of Wales in RAF service. In Royal Navy service the Sea King was also used for anti-submarine, airborne early warning and commando assault missions until it was replaced by the Merlin. The Sea King was acquired by numerous nations and is still in use with six today, including Ukraine who have been donated a number of updated airworthy examples by the United Kingdom to use in their war against Russia.
The Belgian Air Force operated the Sea King Mk.48 in the search and rescue role from 1976 up until 2019 when it was replaced by the NH90. Belgian Sea Kings were often a common sight on the southern UK coast where they would sometimes respond to emergencies or perform demonstrations for the crowds. Two of the Belgian Sea Kings, registrations RS02 and RS04 were acquired by Historic Helicopters in Somerset who maintain them in a flying condition.
Historic Helicopters will be providing one of their ex-Belgian Sea King Mk.48s for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. Photo Credit: RIAT Volunteer