Alternative Cold War History 1994

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Helicopters

USN Helicopters

The USN operates numerous helicopter fleets, primarily for ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) but also for SAR (Search and Rescue), logistics and general tasks. This section will not discuss US Marine Corps (USMC) helicopters which are covered in the amphibious section.

SH-2 Seasprite

The Seasprite fulfilled the light ASW role, answering the specification for LAMPS I (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System). The name is odd because the SH-2 is such a small platform that its ability to fulfil multi-purpose aspect of the title is questionable, although a hoist could be fitted and a slung load could be carried. The Seasprite was widely used throughout the Viet Nam war era, flying off the small decks of many US ships, but it was approaching retirement and due to be replaced by the SH-60B. Complications arose to this plan in the 1980s because of the 600 ship navy plan. The SH-2 was the only helicopter able to operate off the Knox class and older frigates as well as many of the early Oliver Hazard Perry ships (Short Hull). So the SH-2G ‘Super Seasprite’ was developed, historically these were sent immediately to the Reserves due to a shrinking fleet and only 24 were acquired (6 new and 18 conversions), in Northern Fury they all remain in the active fleet and 24 more older aircraft were converted for a fleet total of 48 ‘Super Seasprites’. The plan was further complicated due to the Gulf War in 1991, for deployment there, 16 SH-2Fs were fitted with forward looking infra-red (FLIR) cameras and other modifications, these remain in service as well and are known as the SH-2F(GW). In total there are 112 Seasprites are in the fleet and about a dozen held in readiness.

Sqn Name Location No. Type Remarks
HSL-31 Arch Angels NAS North Island 12 SH-2G
HSL-32 Invaders NAS Norfolk 12 SH-2G
HSL-33 Seasnakes NAS North Island 12 SH-2G
HSL-38 Seawolves NAS Norfolk 16 SH-2F Several Gulf War Mod
HSL-74 Demon Elves NAS Norfolk 16 SH-2F Several Gulf War Mod
HSL-75 Emerald Knights NAS North Island 16 SH-2F Several Gulf War Mod
HSL-84 Thunderbolts NAS Norfolk 16 SH-2F Several Gulf War Mod
HSL-94 Titans NAS Norfolk 12 SH-2G

SH-3 Sea KingAt its peak the USN operated well over 300 of the powerful and amphibious SH-3 Sea King helicopters but is currently retiring the bulk of that fleet. The two roles remaining to the Sea King are:

  • ASW; where it is being replaced by the SH-60F Oceanhawk in the Carrier Air Wings (CVW). Both the Sea King and the new Oceanhawk differ from other US ASW helicopters by having dipping sonar, allowing them to use active sonar at depth near very noisy ships – like Aircraft Carriers.

  • SAR; (Search and Rescue) and general utility. The SAR task will be taken up by the HH-60H ‘Rescue Hawk’ but only on the CVWs and Special Forces squadrons. General duties and shore based SAR will be conducted by the last remaining 26 UH-3H Sea Kings and a variety of other means.

Type Sqn Name No Location Remarks
SH-3G HC-1 Fleet Angels 8 North Island
HC-2 Fleet Angels 12 Norfolk
1 Naples Italy 6th Fleet VIP Tpt
VC-3 Red Tails 4 Puerto Ricco Target tower
VC-5 Checkertails 5 Cubi Pt Philippines Target tower
VC-8 Redtails 6 Oceania Target tower
VX-1 Pioneers 2 Patuxent River Test pilot trg
Not assigned 3 Pensacola
Not assigned 3 Cecil Fd
Not assigned 3 Key West
Not assigned 2 Jacksonville
Not assigned 3 Whidbey Is
Not assigned 3 Miramar
SH-3D HS-5 Nightdippers 6 CVW-7 USS J.F. Kennedy
HS-7 Dusty Dogs 6 CVW-3 USS Eisenhower
HS-9 Sea Griffins 6 CVW-17 USS Saratoga
HS-11 Dragon Slayers 6 CVW-1 USS America
HS-12 Wyverns 6 CVW-5 USS Independence
HS-16 Bullfrogs 6 CVW-2 USS Constellation
HS-17 Neptune's Raiders 6 North Island Deactivating
HS-85 Golden Gators 6 North Island Reserve Sqn
UH-3H HC-1 Fleet Angels 8 North Island
HC-2 Fleet Angles 4 Norfolk
HC-5 Providers 7 Agana Japan
HC-11 Gunbearers 4 North Island
HC-16 Bullfrogs 4 Pensacola
HSL-51 Warlords 1 Yokosuka Japan 7th Fleet VIP Tpt

SH-60 Seahawk

The very robust and capable Seahawk is the maritime variant of the armies UH-60 Blackhawk and its versatility was ideal for the Navy. Ideally the USN wanted to replace all (or most) helicopters with this one family of aircraft, but budgets got in the way of that idea, however because the Army, the USAF and the US Coast Guard are also adopting variants the pan-defence efficiencies may eventually allow that to happen. By 1994 the USN was acquiring three variants, all with the name Seahawk but unofficially with adopted names:

  • SH-60B Seahawk, filling a LAMPS III role, these rugged and powerful ASW helicopter have modern and capable ASW computation and targeting systems, a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), 25 sonobuoys, a powerful search radar, FLIR and either air launched torpedoes or Penguin Anti-Ship Missiles (ASM). These are equipped with a RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse) system to assist them landing on a small deck. In total, 181 SH-60B were produced.

  • SH-60F Oceanhawk, designed to operate off aircraft carriers, this model exchanges the RAST system, the MAD, the search radar and the onboard sonobouys for an active dipping sonar, enabling it to hunt submarines near the center of a very noisy task group. The Oceanhawk has only 6 sonobouys launched from an external mount. The USN procured 76 SH-60F but only 45 have been delivered by the start of Northern Fury.

  • HH-60H Rescue Hawk, primarily used by two Special Forces CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) squadrons, this aircraft is based on the SH-60F but has many survivability features including electronic countermeasures, jammers and chaff/flare dispensers. It can fire the AGM-114 Hellfire missile. In addition to the CSAR squadrons, each HS (Helicopter ASW) squadron is equipped with two HH-60H to augment the six SH-60Fs. Only 42 of this type were produced.

Sqn Name Location No. Type Remarks
HS-2 Golden Falcons CVW-9 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS Nimitz
HS-3 Tridents CVW-8 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS T Roosevelt
HS-4 Black Knights CVW-15 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS Kitty Hawk
HCS-4 Red Wolves NAS Norfolk 12 HH-60H
HCS-5 Firehawks NAS North Island 12 HH-60H
HS-6 Indians CVW-11 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS Abraham Lincoln
HS-4 Eightballers CVW-14 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS Carl Vinson
HS-15 Red Lions CVW-6 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS Enterprise
HS-16 Nighthawks CVW-10 6/2 SH-60F/HH-60H USS George Washington
HSL-34 Greencheckers NAS Norfolk 18 SH-60B FRS
HSL-35 Magicians NAS North Island 14 SH-60B
HSL-36 Lamplighters NAS Mayport 12 SH-60B
HSL-37 Easy Riders NAS North Island 14 SH-60B
HSL-40 Airwolves NAS Mayport 13 SH-60B
HSL-42 Proud Warriors NAS Mayport 13 SH-60B
HSL-43 Battle Cats NAS North Island 14 SH-60B
HSL-44 Swamp Foxes NAS Mayport 13 SH-60B
HSL-45 Wolfpack NAS North Island 14 SH-60B
HSL-46 Grandmasters NAS Mayport 13 SH-60B
HSL-47 Saberhawk NAS North Island 14 SH-60B
HSL-48 Vipers NAS Mayport 13 SH-60B
HSL-60 Jaguars NAS Mayport 16 SH-60B FRS

CH/UH/HH-46 Sea KnightThese twin engine medium lift helicopters fulfill a number of roles across the Navy. The CH-46D airframe is shared with the USMC and is used for general cargo transport. The UH-46D is used for cargo transport, primarily off of replenishment ships. The HH-46D are used as SAR helicopters, primarily off fixed USN bases

Sqn Name Location CH-46D UH-46D HH-46D
HC-3 Pack Rats NAS North Island 10 6
HC-5 Providers NAS Agana Japan 12
HC-6 Chargers NAS Norfolk 15 5
HC-8 Dragonwales NAS Norfolk 12 5
HC-11 Gunbearers NAS North Island 24 4 12
Totals 61 26 18

MH-53E Sea DragonThe USN operates the MH-53E primarily in the mine clearing role but these aircraft are also very capable heavy lift helicopters. All three squadrons are located at NAS Norfolk but are deployable worldwide via C-5 Galaxy to any trouble spot. HM-14 is affiliated with Pacific Fleet.

Sqn Name Location No. Type Remarks
HM-12 Hawlin Hogs NAS Norfolk 12 MH-53E FRS
HM-14 Vanguard NAS Norfolk 18 MH-53E
HM-15 Blackhawks NAS Norfolk 18 MH-53E

UH-1N

The Navy operates about 25 UH-1N Iroquois (Twin Huey) light utility helicopters in the SAR, VIP transport and utility roles. As the USMC retires their UH-1N in favour of the UH-1Y, the USN is able to absorb more and deploy them as needed.