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Fleet Air Arm farewells ‘Bravo’ Seahawk and Squirrel helicopters

The Royal Australian Navy’s last deployed S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter returns home to HMAS Albatross from operational deployment in the Middle East.

The last S-70B-2 Seahawk to have been deployed returning home to HMAS Albatross. (Defence)

The S-70B-2 Seahawk and AS350BA Squirrel helicopters have been formally retired from active Royal Australian Navy (RAN) service in a ceremony at HMAS Albatross.

Defence stated that members of the Fleet Air Arm community, including retired flight crews and maintainers, joined Navy to farewell the helicopters.

While the ‘Bravo’ Seahawk had been operational for 29 years, the Squirrel light utility helicopter served with the RAN for 33 years.

Commodore Chris Smallhorn, Commander Fleet Air Arm, said the helicopters are retiring with proud records of serving the nation.

“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,” said CDRE Smallhorn.

“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.”

Training using the Squirrel is being replaced by the Helicopter Aircrew Training System and the MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopter is replacing the S-70B-2.

“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,” said CDRE Smallhorn.

“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.”

Seahawk aircraft 872 ‘Christine’ is set to find a new home at the Australian War Memorial.