The Indian navy has formally retired its small fleet of Sikorsky UH-3H ‘Sea King’ helicopters from service.

The last three operational UH-3Hs with Indian Naval Air Squadron 350 (INAS 350) made a final flypast before the type was de-inducted from service in late June.

UH-3H Indian Navy 2

Source: Indian navy

INAS 350 will transition to the Sea King 42C

INAS 350 was commissioned into service with its UH-3Hs in March 2009. The unit will be re-equipped with Sea King 42C helicopters, which were originally acquired in the late 1980s.

The UH-3Hs were acquired by India from the USA along with the amphibious assault ship INS Jalashwa (formerly USS Trenton).

A total of six UH-3Hs were contracted for in November 2006 under a Foreign Military Sales deal valued at approximately Rs1.8 billion ($21.6 million).

UH-3H Indian Navy

Source: Indian navy

The UH-3H fleet suffered from poor servicability in Indian service

The six UH-3Hs had been retired by the US Navy in 2005 and put into storage. The helicopters were acquired as an interim measure because the arrival of the Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) was deemed a decade away.

The navy eventually inducted its first ALH MkIII martime helicopter in April 2021 with INAS 323. 

Indian Naval Aviation presently operates a mix of helicopter types of Western, Russian and indigenous origin, encompassing the newly inducted Sikorsky MH-60R, Sea King Mk.42A, Mk.42B and Mk.42C; Kamov Ka-28 and Ka-31; the SA-316 known locally as ‘Chetak’ produced under license by HAL, and the indigenously developed ALH Mk I and Mk III.