Well-suited for amphibious warfare and the tactical insertion of ground troops, the ‘Commando’ was an important variant of the Sea King. It was initially proposed as a tactical transport for the Egyptian Air Force for which the amphibious capability of earlier Sea Kings was not required and so the side floats were deleted. With folding rotors and tail, the Commando entered service with the Royal Navy as the Sea King HC.4.
It would eventually be provided with radar-warning and infrared jamming devices, and could also deploy M130/M147 flares as countermeasures. Besides troops, it could also be fitted to carry underslung loads of up to 2.5 tonnes. Increased range and a 28-troop capacity made it ideal as an amphibious transport aircraft, and the HC.4 would see operational service in the Falklands, Balkans, Gulf, Lebanon and Afghanistan conflicts. It was often deployed in order to evacuate wounded personnel and refugees, as well as preparing for and supporting ground advances. It is due to be retired from UK forces service in March 2016.
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