The S-70B-2 ‘Bravo’ Seahawk and AS350BA Squirrel helicopters were formally retired from active service with the Royal Australian Navy today in a ceremony at HMAS Albatross.
FILE PHOTO (2012): An S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter comes in for a landing on HMAS Melbourne in the Middle East. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
The Fleet Air Arm community, including retired flight crews and maintainers, joined Navy to farewell the helicopters that provided decades of dependable service.
Commander Fleet Air Arm Commodore Chris Smallhorn said the Seahawks and Squirrels retired 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 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.
“In 1989, the Bravo was without doubt the most advanced maritime helicopter of its age.
“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.
“The operational and safety record is exceptional by any measure.
“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 front line each day will continue.
“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, with both aircraft amassing an enviable record in both operations and training.