Westland WS-61 Sea King Mk45 helicopters operated by the Pakistan Naval (PN) Aviation Wing took part in the bilateral exercise Ayyildiz 2019 (the Turkish word for crescent and star) held in Karachi recently, writes Waseem Abbas.
The manoeuvres involved the Su Altı Taarruz (SAT, or Underwater Offence, the special operations forces unit of the Turkish Navy) together with the Pakistan Navy’s Special Service Group (Navy).
The 12th in the series of bilateral exercises commenced on July 17 and involved Sea Kings belonging to 111 (Anti-submarine Warfare) Squadron. These undertook numerous counter-terrorism activities in the maritime domain in support of the participating special operations forces. The exercise concluded on July 28.
Pakistan originally took delivery of six Sea King Mk45s, which first entered service in July 1975. Following the loss of one of these on February 8, 1986, a single ex-Royal Navy Sea King HAS5 was acquired as an attrition replacement and delivered as a Mk45A in January 1989.
Six Sea King Mk45/45As are currently operated by 111 Squadron at Pakistan Naval Station Mehran, Karachi. A further seven second-hand Sea Kings have also been acquired more recently from the UK Ministry of Defence. These were formally handed over in the UK on May 24, 2017. The deal involved five Sea King HC4 ‘Junglies’, the other two being former Royal Air Force search-and-rescue Sea King HAR3As.
Under a separate contract, Vector Aerospace prepared three of the ex-UK Sea Kings (two HC4 and one HAR3A model) for service in Pakistan, stripped two HC4s for spares in the UK, and sent an HC4 and a HAR3A as spares ships to Pakistan. The three operational aircraft entered service from December 2017 but one of the ‘Junglies’ was lost in an accident on August 31, 2018.