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​Rare Bird: How Ukrainians Use British 40-Year-Old Sea King Helicopters and What Historic Role One of Them Played in 1982 Falklands War

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Sea King helicopter / Screenshot credit: BBC News
Sea King helicopter / Screenshot credit: BBC News

So far, the United Kingdom sent only three such helicopters to Ukraine but there can be more in the future

Naval Forces of Ukraine are already using Sea King helicopters provided by the UK. Despite the decision to give aging aircraft was greeted with some skepticism initially, yet the Ukrainian marines find them very useful, BBC News reports.

One of the few Ukrainian pilots of Sea King, Vasyl says this rotorcraft "was just what Ukraine's Navy needed – a practical, reliable aircraft that can do whatever is asked of it." The advantages of Sea King are its good payload capacity and fuel consumption efficiency. It is also spacey and "easy to fly," including in difficult conditions.

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The role this aircraft has in the Ukrainian military is broad: from evacuation of wounded, especially the comrade pilots who had to eject in the enemy-controlled territory, to transporting personnel of special forces and equipment deliveries.

As a reminder, Great Britain provided three Sea King helicopters to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and took ten crews for training. So there could be more of these choppers to come.

Out of the three helicopters promised, two are already in Ukraine, the third one is being prepared for the transfer in the UK, it should be delivered in the coming weeks. As BBC News noted, the Ukrainian engineers who have been learning repair and maintenance of the Sea King in Britain are all satisfied with its performance, too. In their words, we can hear another hint of a new batch of helicopters possible:

"They are old, but they have gone through modernisation, and we need them very much. I believe this is just the start of our work together," said engineer Ihor.

Sea Kings forthe traiing of Ukrainian military personnel in the UK
Sea Kings for the training of Ukrainian military personnel in the UK / Photo credit: UK Ministry of Defense

BBC News also recalls an interesting fact about the Sea King. One of these helicopters played a historic role in 182 during the Falklands War by delivering British land forces commander Gen Jeremy Moore to Port Stanley so he could accept the Argentine surrender. Due to a storm, no other aircraft could fly at that time due to the bad weather, a retired naval pilot told journalists. Ralph Wickes-Sneyd commanded a squadron of Sea Kings back then, so he remembers it well:

"It was quite an interesting operation," he said. "The ceasefire hadn't been signed up to this stage, and so the aircraft was flying into Stanley competing not just with the weather, but also some still rather unfriendly Argentines."

Sea King in service with the Ukrainian Navy
Sea King in service with the Ukrainian Navy / Screenshot credit: BBC News
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