WESTLAND SEA KING
MK2 & MK7
The Royal Navy's airborne early warning (AEW) capability had been lost when the Fairey Gannet was withdrawn from service after the last of the RN's fleet carriers was decommissioned in 1978. During the Falklands War, a number of warships were lost and casualties suffered due to the lack of an AEW platform. The proposed fleet cover by the RAF Shackleton AEW2 was not practical and an organic solution was sought. Consequently, two Sea King HAS2s were modified with the addition of the Thorn-EMI ARI 5980/3 Searchwater LAST radar attached to the fuselage on a swivel arm and protected by an inflatable dome. This allowed the radar to be lowered below the fuselage during flight and for it to be raised for landing. These prototypes, designated HAS2(AEW), were both flying within 11 weeks and deployed with 824 D Flight on HMS ILLUSTRIOUS to replace HMS INVINCIBLE. A further eight HAS2s were modified to a production standard, known as the AEW2. These entered operational service in 1984, being deployed by 849 Naval Air Squadron. The MK2 was upgraded to the MK7 in 2002 and remained in service until 2018.