Newest RSAF S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter on display at Singapore Airshow
February 02, 2018 • Leave a Comment
RSAF's S-70B Seahawk 253, on static display at Singapore Airshow 2018, is one of a pair that was ordered in February 2013 and delivered last month. It is seen here loaded with an A244/S Whitehead torpedo.© Roy Choo
Visitors to Singapore Airshow 2018 next week will have the opportunity to get up close to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s newest aircaft, a Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter, among 20 other aircraft and weapon systems on static display at the event.
The Seahawk (tail number 253) is one of a pair ordered in early 2013, both of which were understood to have been delivered barely a month ago in January 2018. It is not yet known what the tail number of the other Seahawk would be but traditional RSAF numbering convention would suggest it could be 252. As a way of illustrating how new the airframe is, its Federal Aviation Administration registration number N1025J — applied on its aft fuselage for flight tests purposes by Sikorsky — could be made out through a layer of paint applied over it following the acceptance of aircraft by the RSAF.
The new pair of Seahawk naval helicopters join six others (tail numbers 260-263, 265-266) that are owned by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) but operated by the RSAF's 123 Squadron, aptly named the 'Seahawks'. Three of these had been delivered to the Peace Triton training detachment at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego by March 2010 for a one-year period to allow sufficient numbers of pilots and ground crews to be trained in order to seed 123 Squadron. Initial Operational Capability of the S-70B Seahawks with 123 Squadron was declared in January 2011. The squadron is primarily tasked with anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare missions, the latter by means of cooperative targeting for RSN ships.
The two new Seahawks are externally identical to the original six, with the L-3 Helicopter Long Range Active Sonar (HELRAS) still utilised as the dipping sonar system. However, it is understood that the pair feature certain improved avionics and it would be likely that the older Seahawks be brought up to a common standard in the future to avoid maintenance complications resulting from a 'fleet within a fleet' situation.
The larger Seahawk fleet would go some way in feeding the increased demand for naval heli-ops with the induction of eight RSN helideck-equipped Littoral Mission Vessels (LMVs) alongside six Formidable-class Stealth Frigates launched and commissioned last decade. The addition of the two new Seahawks would also leverage economies of scale in terms of fleet servicing for an aircraft type that would likely be maintenance-demanding (like all aircraft operating in the maritime environment).
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