Belgian Air Component Sea King Mk.48 RS02 executed the 3000th emergency flight of the type in Belgian service on September 2, 2013, from Koksijde airbase.
The milestone scramble was the transport of an organ to the University Hospital of Gent, which saw itself confronted with a lack of civilian speedy assets.
According to a press statement by the Belgian Air Component the Sea Kings of the country have rescued or assisted in the life-saving of 1635 people since introduction in service in 1976. Eighty percent of the operations of the 40th Squadron Search and Rescue are performed at sea.
One more noteworthy deployment is the rescue of 30 people of the sinking ferry Herald of Free Enterprise just outside the harbour of Zeebrugge on March 6, 1987. One of the bigger recent events was on December 5, 2012, when seven survivors were picked up by the Sea Kings after collision between the RoRo vessel Baltic Ace and container vessel Corvus J.
However, the service life of the once five Belgian Sea Kings is ending. RS03 made its last flight on August 30, 2013. RS01 was decommissioned earlier. The successor of the Sea Kings will be the NH Industries NH90, of which the first of four aircraft to be delivered had its maiden flight on August 5.
The first Belgian NH90 to replace the Sea King was subsequently transferred at the production plant in Donauwörth, Germany, to the Belgian Air Component on August 26, 2013. From there it was dispatched to Marignane in France for pilot and ground crew training. Service introduction of the first NH90 is expected in 2014.
Source: Belgian Air Component
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