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Ukraine conflict: Surplus UK Sea Kings operating in Ukraine

Screenshot of a Twitter video posted by Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov on 21 January showing the first of three former UK Sea King helicopters in the service of Ukraine. (Government of Ukraine/Oleksii Reznikov Twitter)

Ukraine has commenced operations of at least one of three Westland Sea King helicopters donated by the United Kingdom.

The Defence Minister of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov, announced the development on his official Twitter account on 21 January, posting footage of one of the helicopters operating in high-visibility Ukrainian military markings.

“Sea King from the UK has arrived in its new kingdom near the Black Sea in Ukraine! It is a strong reinforcement for the Ukrainian Navy. Our co-operation will continue to increase. Thank you to [UK Defence Minister] Ben Wallace. Together, we will secure the seas and lands across all of Europe!” Reznikov tweeted.

News of the arrival in Ukraine came two months after Wallace announced in November 2022 that the former Royal Navy helicopters (since sold to HeliOps in the UK) would be transferred, and that 10 Ukrainian crews had already been trained on the type.

This transfer represented the first time that the UK provided manned aircraft to Ukraine, with unmanned aerial vehicles having been donated earlier. Although the Sea Kings were used primarily for anti-submarine warfare duties in Royal Navy service, for the Ukrainian Navy they are likely to be used for troop/cargo transport and for (combat) search and rescue.

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