The United States alone has nearly 4000 types of military aircraft including bombers, fighters, trainers, and, of course, helicopters. Navy helicopters are an important part of the Navy’s mission and if you’d like to learn more about the various helicopter types, read on.
Table of Contents
- The History of Naval Helicopters
- Types Of Navy Helicopters
The Navy has several main types of helicopters and they each have an important part to play both during wartime and when the country is at peace.
The first two U.S. Navy helicopter squadrons were formed in April of 1948 and were redesigned in 1965 with many different firsts, including the first helicopter-borne MEDEVAC, the first all-weather day/night detachment, the first blimp rescue, and the first full autorotation to a flight deck during nighttime hours.
Since then, military helicopters have helped in a variety of important events, including assistance during search-and-rescue missions and rescuing hundreds of people after significant events such as floods, proving that both helicopters and the people who operate them are very versatile.
Helicopter squadrons have earned nicknames such as Flight Angels and Circuit Riders and they have a reputation that is built on safety and missions accomplished.
Navy helicopters are reliable and can operate for many years at a time without having to be retired. There are many helicopter types for those who wish to learn more about them.
Ever since 1940, when Igor Sikorsky designed and flew the very first U.S. helicopter, the military has been using them for a variety of missions and researching helicopters is never a dull or boring feat.
1. Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk Helicopter
With twin turboshaft engines, the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk is a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family and underwent some important modifications, including the folding main rotor and a tail that is now hinged in order to reduce its footprint aboard ships.
Commonly called the Sea Hawk, the helicopter can be deployed in destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships, and frigates that are air-capable.
It can even handle anti-submarine warfare (ASW), search and rescue (SAR) missions, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), and anti-surface warfare (ASUW), among other activities.
The Sea Hawk is 64 feet long and 17 feet high and it has an empty weight of 15,200 pounds. It is made to operate at no more than 207 mph and it can accommodate up to four crew members and five passengers. Its maximum takeoff weight is 23,000 pounds and it has a disc area of 2262 square feet.
The Navy started using this helicopter in 1984. There are many versions of the aircraft in the United States and elsewhere, including Spain, China, Britain, Thailand, Australia, Denmark, and many others.
2. Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopter
This helicopter was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, when a third engine was added as well as a seventh blade to the main rotor.
It was built for the U.S. Marine Corps but is also used by the Navy for long-range minesweeping, heavy-lift duties, and Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) missions.
There is currently another version of this aircraft being developed that has new engines, a wider aircraft cabin, and new rotor blades made out of composite materials.
The CH-53E can transport up to 55 troops or 30,000 pounds of cargo. It has a cruising speed of 173 mph and a range of 621 miles. It is fitted with a refueling probe and can carry up to three machine guns.
It also has chaff-flare dispensers and has had upgrades that include a night vision system, improved machine guns, and a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imager.
It is one of the two largest helicopters in the Western world, the other one being the MH-53E.
This helicopter has been operated by both the United States and China and it is almost 100 feet in length. It is also nearly 28 feet high and has a cruising speed of roughly 140 mph.
It has a rotor diameter of 79 feet, a disc area of 4900 square feet, and a payload of 30,000 pounds for internal and 36,000 pounds for external.
3. HH/UH-1N Iroquois Helicopter
This is one of the Navy helicopter types that is used mostly for search and rescue, maritime special operations missions, and command and control purposes.
The HH-1N is used by the Navy and the UH-1N is used by the Marine Corps. Some of its many other uses include forward air control, evacuating medical casualties from the field, and missions that involve recovering both personnel and aircraft from various locations.
Since 1956, more than 16,000 helicopters in the H-1 family of aircraft have been produced.
This helicopter has two Pratt & Whitney T400-CP-400 turboshaft engines, each being 1250 hp. The aircraft is 57 feet long and 14 feet high and it has a maximum cruise speed of roughly 204 mph. It can accommodate a crew of four and up to eight troops fit for combat.
This is a transport and utility helicopter that has a range of 286 miles and an empty weight of 6000 pounds. They are commonly called Huey helicopters and they are used by the Navy mostly for shore-based search-and-rescue missions.
4. TH-6B Helicopter
The TH-6B is a single-engine helicopter equipped with a tail rotor, a single main rotor, and a skid-type landing gear. The main rotor system is fully articulated and consists of four blades and rotary-friction lead-lag dampers.
This helicopter is very important to the test pilot schools of the Navy, being used for in-flight instruction and demonstrations as well as missions and performance systems flight test techniques.
They are made by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft and they are 30 feet long and 7 feet high. The TH-6B was first deployed in 1992 and it can accommodate two crew members. It has a maximum gross weight of 2500 pounds and a ceiling of more than 15,000 feet.
Because the aircraft is used only for training purposes, it has no armament capabilities and is slightly smaller in size than many other helicopters.
5. VH-60N Night Hawk Helicopter
The VH-60N is an executive transport helicopter that has twin engines and exists to support the president of the United States in various locations. It is frequently used for search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-submarine warfare, cargo lifts, anti-ship warfare, and special operations.
It was introduced in 1989 to replace the VH-1N helicopter. This is an all-weather helicopter that is operated by the Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) and contains two General Electric T700-GE-401 engines.
The helicopter is 64 feet long and 16 feet high and it has a maximum takeoff weight of 22,000 pounds. It accommodates up to four crew members and is widely used throughout the Department of Defense.
6. MH-53E Sea Dragon Helicopter
The Sea Dragon is used for a variety of purposes including Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), assault support, and vertical shipboard delivery.
It uses a variety of systems to do its job including Doppler radar, UHF/VHF/HF radios, GPS, Identified Friend or Foe (IFF), and secure communications capability.
It is able to operate from other carriers and has the capability to tow numerous mine-hunting/sweeping countermeasures systems.
The Sea Dragon is heavier and has much better fuel capacity than its predecessors. It uses three General Electric T64-GE-419 turboshaft engines with 4750 shaft horsepower each.
It is nearly 100 feet long when you count the fuselage and 28 feet in height. It has a ceiling of 10,000 feet and can accommodate three crew members and either 55 troops or 32,000 pounds of cargo.
7. TH-57 Sea Ranger Helicopter
The Sea Ranger has a variety of purposes including photo, utility, and chase missions as well as advanced training for pilots interested in flying rotary-wing helicopters.
In fact, at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, this helicopter trains hundreds of aviation students every year, mainly concentrating in advanced instrument flight rules.
The current model was introduced in the early 1980s.
This helicopter consists of one Allison 250-C20BJ turbofan engine and a 31-foot fuselage. It is 10 feet high and has a maximum takeoff weight of 3200 pounds. It can accommodate one crew member and up to four students.
Its rotor diameter is a little more than 35 feet. It also has a cruising speed of roughly 115 mph and a ceiling of 18,900 feet. It is a version of the Bell Jet Ranger 206.
8. VH-3D Sea King Helicopter
The VH-3D Sea King helicopter is a twin-engine aircraft that is mostly used for executive transport purposes. It is an all-weather helicopter operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1).
It was originally used as an anti-submarine sensor carrier for the U.S. Navy and it replaced the VH-3A in the mid-1970s.
It was recently replaced itself by the VH-92A and includes features such as GPS, TCAS, a self-contained navigation system, day/night and all-weather operations, a flight information recorder sensor that is made to survive a crash, and extensive secure and non-secure communications systems.
Characteristics of the Sea King include a height of 17 feet and a length of 73 feet, a maximum takeoff weight of 21,500 feet, and two General Electric T58-GE-400B turboshaft engines. It can accommodate a crew of four people and is manufactured in Stratford, Connecticut.