Fleet Air Arm says farewell to helicopters

Fleet Air Arm says farewell to helicopters

A Royal Australian Navy AS-350BA Squirrel over the skies of Nowra, NSW. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

The S-70B-2 ‘Bravo’ Seahawk and AS350BA Squirrel helicopters were formally retired from active Royal Australian Navy service in a ceremony at HMAS Albatross.

The Fleet Air Arm community, including retired flight crews and maintainers, joined the Navy in its farewell to the helicopters on December 1.

Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn, said the Seahawks and Squirrels retire with a proud record of serving the nation.

"These aircraft have proven to be some of the most successful airframes in naval aviation history," Commodore Smallhorn said.
 
"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.
 
"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."

Commodore Smallhorn said the Seahawk will be remembered for its strong presence in the Middle East in the 90s.
 
"In 1989, the Bravo was without doubt the most advanced maritime helicopter of its age," he said.
 
"It has proven to be a magnificent combat helicopter for anti-submarine and surface operations and also served us exceptionally in secondary utility-type missions.
 
"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.
 
"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."
 
Commodore Smallhorn added that while the operational and safety record of the helicopters is "exceptional by any measure", the RAN looks forward to the transition to its new training systems and helicopters.
 
“As we transition to new training systems and the Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters, the efforts of the military, public service and industry partners who keep these complex weapon systems on the frontline each day will continue.
 
“[The] Navy is grateful to all of our support agencies and former Fleet Air Arm members for a job well done.”
 
The Bravo has been operational for 29 years and the Squirrel has served the RAN for 33 years.

Fleet Air Arm says farewell to helicopters
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