Australia plans to sell five Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland Sea King helicopters, with the aircraft to be withdrawn from service in December 2011.

The package includes five complete helicopters, three airframes, a simulator as well as equipment and parts, said minister for defence materiel Jason Clare.

"They've been the workhorse of the navy, having flown in excess of 60,000h in operations in Australia and overseas," said Clare. "The latest example of their work was the disaster relief and search and rescue missions they conducted during the Queensland floods."

 RAN Sea King - Commonwealth of Australia
© Commonwealth of Australia

A sixth Sea King, Shark 07, will not be sold. It will be preserved at the navy's Fleet Air Arm Museum in Nowra, which lies south of Sydney on Australia's eastern seaboard.

Clare said the aircraft will be marketed globally, including defence expos in the UK and Canada in September. Tender submissions will close on 1 November.

"This is a really versatile helicopter and a proven capability. The Sea Kings could be used for a range of things like fire fighting, disaster relief, search and rescue, by another navy or commercially," said Clare.

The NH Industries MRH90 transport helicopter is replacing the RAN's Sea Kings and the army's Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks.

Australia's Sea King 50s were delivered between 1975 and 1983, as recorded in Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.

Source: Flight International