Fleet Air Arm farewells ‘Bravo’ Seahawk and Squirrel helicopters

The last S-70B-2 Seahawk to have been deployed returning home to HMAS Albatross. (Defence)
The last S-70B-2 Seahawk to have been deployed returning home to HMAS Albatross. (Defence)

The S-70B-2 Seahawk and AS350BA Squirrel helicopters have been formally retired from active Royal Australian Navy (RAN) service in a ceremony at HMAS Albatross.

Defence stated that members of the Fleet Air Arm community, including retired flight crews and maintainers, joined Navy to farewell the helicopters on Friday.

While the ‘Bravo’ Seahawk had been operational for 29 years, the Squirrel light utility helicopter served with the RAN for 33 years.

Commodore Chris Smallhorn, Commander Fleet Air Arm, said the helicopters were retiring with proud records of serving the nation.

“Over the 30 years, the majority of naval aviators have trained in the Squirrel and many, including myself, have wonderfully fond memories of their time learning to fly,” said CDRE Smallhorn.

“The Squirrel has been so versatile in peace and war that it has created a truly impressive chapter in the history of the Fleet Air Arm.”

Training using the Squirrel is being replaced by the Helicopter Aircrew Training System, while the MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopter is replacing the S-70B-2.

“The Bravo has had an almost continuous presence in the Middle East since 1991, and was always on station at home, having come to the assistance of countless Australians and friends of Australia alike,” said CDRE Smallhorn.

“It is a testament to the sailors and officers who maintained and flew these aircraft that we retire the same side numbers that our nation purchased. The operational and safety record is exceptional by any measure.”

Seahawk aircraft 872 ‘Christine’ is set to find a new home at the Australian War Memorial.

Comments

  1. Philip says

    Retiring the same side numbers as those stood-up? May I then add my “Bravo!” to the crew and service personnel.

    (P.S. I do hope the curator at the Australian War Memorial is not named Arnold Cunningham though)

  2. Tim says

    Last week the government announced the winning design for the offshore patrol boats, which will have a flight deck. I am going to guess that the Seahawks and Tiapans will be too large to operate from these vessels??. Given that the navy is now without a light utility helicopter (except for training purposes) it will be interesting to see if there are any plans to purchase H135s down the track for the Navy to operate from these vessels. Construction on the first of these vessels is expected to start in the second half of next year.

  3. Gforgeorge says

    Both helo’s great workhorses, be interesting to see if they will get 30 years out of the MRH-90’s.

  4. ABH says

    “Bravo” for a job exceedingly well-done and an exemplary safety record to boot! No more Squirrel “pas de deux”! What a shame!

  5. Harry says

    Tim – I don’t see why they can’t operate from it as a lilly pad, but as you may know the OPVs won’t have hangers, so it won’t be an inherent capability…

  6. Mick C says

    Tim
    The OPVs will get smallish UAVs only, there is no hanger facilities for Helos.. The Navy have recently got S-100 UAVs as a interim capability mainly for the OPVs.

  7. Myles Dobinson says

    As I understood the original specs were for the OPV’s to have an inherent helicopter capability (hanger) and medium gun so it could be used as an escort. Now we have no inherent helicopter capability and only a light gun. Is this the result of a red headed defense minister that has not one iota of what a defense force requires in regards to a shooting war. Especially as war with NK or China seem more likely every week or doesn’t she want to upset her Chinese friends and their political donations?

  8. Mick C says

    18Myles, the OPVs have not been designed to fight a shooting war that’s what the Destroyers, Frigates and Subs are for and at present we don’t have a req for OCVs. The important thing at this stage is the OPVs are to be fitted with a decent CMS so fitting AShM and or a CIWS or even something like SeaRam is possible but is not needed at present.

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