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Overview:

In 1970, a variant of the Seasprite was adopted to meet the Navy's interim requirement for a Light Airborne Multi-purpose System (LAMPS) to provide over-the-horizon search and strike capability for anti-sub destroyers. In this new guise, the helicopter was identified as the SH-2D carrying a high power search radar in a radome tub under the nose, plus suitable equipment for either anti-submarine warfare (ASW - including two MK-46 torpedoes) or anti-ship missile defense (ASMD - including electronic jamming gear). The Navy eventually directed that all Seasprites in the inventory would be committed to the LAMPS program. The SH-2D standard was changed to SH-2F featuring an improved rotor and upgrade of the engines from 1,250 shp to 1,350 shp, and increasing the lifting weight by 750 lbs to 13,500 lbs.

The different versions of the SH-2:

  • the UH-2A; the first serial model, 88 helicopters delivered.
  • the UH-2B; simplified version of the UH-2A without the extensive navigation equipment. 102 helicopters were built.
  • the UH-2C; twin-engined version of the UH-2A. The former versions also got a second turbine.
  • the HH-2C; armed version of the UH-2C for the Navy.
  • the HH-2D; armed version, developed in 1969, delivered in 1970.
  • the NUH-2C; armed with air-to-air missiles, later renamed NUH-2D. This version was tested in 1971.
  • the SH-2D; multipurpose version of the HH-2D. Delivered in 1971 and used for ASUW and ASW.
  • the YSH-2E; SH-2D with new radar equipment.
  • the SH-2F; improved SH-2D.
  • the SH-2G; improved SH-2F, current version.

Features:

The primary tasks of the Seasprite-helicopters are anti-submarine and anti-surface warefare (ASW and ASUW), anti-ship missile defense (ASMD) and anti-ship surveillance and targeting (ASST). The secondary tasks are medical evacuation, search and rescue, personal and cargo transport, as well as small boat interdiction, amphibious assault air surport, gun fire spotting, mine detection and battle damage assessment.

Background:

The H-2 orginally entered Naval service as the Kaman HU2K-1, a single-engine light utility helicopter primarily deployed aboard aircraft carriers in a Search-and-Rescue (SAR) role. When the aircraft numbering system was changed in 1962, the HU2K-1 was redesignated the UH-2A and the HU2K-1U was redesignated UH-2B. The airframe continued to undergo upgrades, most significantly the addition of a second engine and external stores stations, and the HH-2D was selected to be the airframe for the LAMPS when the program was stood up in 1972. LAMPS evolved in the late 60's from an urgent requirement to develop a manned helicopter that would support a non-aviation ship and serve as its tactical Anti-Submarine Warfare arm. Known as LAMPS Mk I, the advanced sensors, processors, and display capabilities aboard the helicopter enabled ships to extend their situational awareness beyond the line-of-sight limitations that hamper shipboard radars and the short distances for acoustic detection and prosecution of underwater threats associated with hull-mounted sonars. H-2s reconfigured for the LAMPS mission were redesignated SH-2Ds. The first operational SH-2D/LAMPS helicopter embarked on the USS Belknap (CG-26) in December 1971. Eventually all but two H-2s in the Navy inventory were remanufactured into SH-2Fs, and 59 SH-2Fs were built from the ground up in the 1980s. The final production procurement of the SH-2F was in Fiscal Year 1986. The SH-2F was retired from active service in in the late 1990s. Some late-production SH-2Fs were either completed as, or have been converted to, SH-2Gs.

Development:

The Seasprite originated in a 1956 USN design competition. Kaman were the winning entrant with their K-20 proposal. In 1957 they were contracted to produce 4 prototypes and 12 production aircraft to be designated HU2K-1. The first of the four 875 shp GE T58-GE-6 powered prototypes was flown on July 2, 1959. Production delivery beginning in December 1962, with the designation changed to UH-2A and named the Seasprite. Like the UH-2B, this was a single engine (1,250 shp GE T58-GE-8B) shipborne SAR helicopter, with a range of other uses (casualty evacuation, gunnery observation, liason, planeguard, reconnaisance, and vertical replenishment). The UH-2A was IFR equipped, while the simplified UH-2B was not - although most were later upgraded to all weather capability. In addition to the 4 prototypes, 88 UH-2A and 102 UH-2B aircraft were produced.

Development of the Seasprite continued with the UH-2C. This was a conversion of 40 UH-2A and B airframes to accomodate two 1,250 shp GE T58-GE-8B engines. The extra engine provided better performance and improved safety (particularly over water) as the aircraft was capable of single engine operation. The prototype first flew on March 14, 1966, and 'production' deliveries began in August 1967. The HH-2C was a further convertion of six aircraft to incorporate a new main rotor, a four bladed tail rotor, and self-sealing tanks, along with a chin minigun, waist machine guns, and crew armour protection. These were used in the combat SAR role in Vietnam. The HH-2D was produced by rebuilding 67 UH-2A and B aircraft, and was similar mechanically to the HH-2C but lacked the armour and armament.

As previously mentioned the SH-2D was produced to meet the USN LAMPS requirement. Intended as an interim aircraft, 2 HH-2D aircraft were modified, to incorporate search radar and electronic support measures (ESM) equipment, plus provision for a magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) system and sonobouys, along with torpedo armament. The first of these flew on March 16, 1971 with a total of 20 aircraft being completed and delivered by March 1972. Further LAMPS development was explored with the YSH-2E. Two HH-2D aircraft were converted, first flying on March 7 and 28, 1972 respectively. The programme did not go into production but resulted in the SH-2F LAMPS Mk.1 aircraft which went into production, with the first deliveries in 1973. Initial aircraft were conversions of earlier models, amounting to 104 helicopters by 1982. New build production began in 1984, and 54 aircraft were delivered by 1989. A number of aircraft were upgraded for service in the Middle East, changes including IR jammers, chaff/flare dispensors, missile warning equipment, and chin mounted FLIR sensors.

The SH-2G is the latest development. The prototype was a converted SH-2F which initially served as a test bed for the two 1,720shp T700-GE-401 turboshafts. Fitting of the electronic improvements, which include a digital databus to coordinate the sensor and data-processing systems, uprated sensors, magic lantern anti-mine system, and dunking sonar was completed in December 1989. The type entered service in 1991, but changing world conditions saw only six new build aircraft and a number of SH-2F conversions. Export options have increased the market for the new Seasprite and Kaman are now producing SH-2Gs for Australia, Egypt, and New Zealand.

 

General Characteristics
Contractor: Kaman
Propulsion: 2 T700-GE-401/401C turboshaft engines
Length: 52 feet 9 inches (15.9 meters)
Fuselage length: 40 feet 6 inches (12.2 meters)
Height: 15 feet (4.5 meters)
Weight: 9,110 pounds (4100 kg) (empty)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 13,500 pounds (6,075 kg)
Range: 340 nautical miles (391 miles; 627 km)
Ceiling: 10,000 feet (3048 meters) (at 13,500 pounds (6,075kg))
Speed: 150 knots (172.5 mph; 277.55 kmph)
Crew: 3
Armament: 2 Mk 46 or Mk 50 torpedoes
Unit Cost: $26 million
Date Deployed: First flight: July 2, 1959 (UH-2)


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