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Sikorsky S-61R

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere
HH-3E Jolly Green Giant
HH-3F "Pelican"
US Coast Guard HH-3F Pelican
Type Medium-lift transport/SAR helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky
Maiden flight 1959
Status Active service
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Coast Guard
Italian Air Force
Developed from SH-3 Sea King
Variants Westland Sea King

The Sikorsky S-61R is a developed version of the S-61/SH-3 Sea King, which was also built under license by Agusta as the AS-61R. The S-61R served in the United States Air Force as the CH-3C/E Sea King and the HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, and with the United States Coast Guard as the HH-3F "Pelican".[1]


The Sikorsky S-61R was developed as a derivative of their S-61/SH-3 Sea King model. It features a substantially-revised fuselage with a rear loading ramp, a conventional though water-tight hull instead of the S-61's boat-hull, and retractable tricycle landing gear. The fuselage layout was used by Sikorsky for the larger CH-53 variants, and by the much later (though similarly-sized) S-92.

Sikorsky designed and built a S-61R prototype as a private venture with its first flight in 1963.[2] During its development, the US Air Force placed an order for the aircraft, which was designated CH-3C.[2] The Air Force used the CH-3C to recover downed pilots. The CH-3E variant with more powerful engines would follow in 1965.

A USAF HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter flies over Canada.

The improved HH-3E variant would follow later, with eight built, and all CH-3Es converted to this standard.[3] Known as the Jolly Green Giant, the HH-3E featured protective armor, self-sealing tanks, a retractable inflight refueling probe, jettisonable external tanks, a high-speed hoist, and other specialized equipment.[3]

In 1965, U. S. Coast Guard ordered a version designated, HH-3F Sea King (more commonly known by its nickname "Pelican") for all-weather water rescue.[2] Its "water landing" ability made it a dependable workhorse from the late 1960s until it was phased out in the late 1990s. The Pelican featured a search radar with a nose antenna radome offset to port.[3][1]

Italian Agusta built a S-61R variant, named AS-61R under license.[2] Agusta produced 22 helicopters for the Italian Air Force.[2] The company claims it could re-open the production line in 36 months to build additional AS-61 helicopters.

Operational service


Italian Agusta began production in 1974 and delivered 22 helicopters as replacements for the Grumman HU-16 Albatross used for SAR (Search and Rescue) missions at sea. Italian Air Force AS-61R helicopters perform SAR missions in time of peace and C/SAR (Combat SAR) in time of crisis or during military assignment. All helicopters are operated by the 5 flights of the 15° Stormo Stefano Cagna and deployed in 4 bases across Italy.

From 1993 15° Stormo carry support missions to the civilians during natural catastrophes and disasters in Italy. 83º Centro C/SAR is engaged with SAR missions in the hostile zones of the several operations abroad where Italian Armed Forces are deployed - Somalia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.


File:HH3 2 300.jpg
USCG HH-3F Pelican on the water, illustrating its amphibious capability
Military transport helicopter, Sikorsky model number.
Long-range military transport helicopter for the US Air Force, 75 built.
Long-range military transport helicopter for the US Air Force, 45 Built.
HH-3E Jolly Green Giant
Long-range search and rescue helicopter for the US Air Force, 10 built and converted from CH-3E.
Special forces version for the US Air Force.
US Air Force VIP transport helicopter.
HH-3F "Pelican"
Long-range search and rescue helicopter for the US Coast Guard, 40 built.
AS-61R (HH-3F Pelican)
Long-range search and rescue helicopter built since 1974 under license in Italy by Agusta, 22 built.


CH-3E s/n 63-9691 of the San Bernardino County Sherrif's Department at Rialto, California

Military operators


Civil operators


Specifications (HH-3E)

Data from Evergreen, [4] Global[5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Capacity: ? passengers
  • Length: 73 ft (22.3 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 62 ft (18.9 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 1 in (5.51 m)
  • Empty weight: 13,341 lb (6,051 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 22,050 lb (10,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric T58-10 turboshafts, 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) each
  • *Rotor system: 5 blades



  • Various equipment peculiar to the operating country.
  • Door guns on some variants (For information on American equipment, see Main article: U.S. Helicopter Armament Subsystems)

  • References

    1. 1.0 1.1 United States. Department of Defense. DOD 4120.15-L Model Designation of Military Aircraft, Rockets, and Guided Missiles. Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 1974. pg. A-40; 1998. pg. A-43; 2004. pg. 43
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sikorsky S-61R on
    3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Chant, Christopher (1996). Fighting Helicopters of the 20th Century. Twickenham, UK: Tiger Books International PLC. ISBN 1-85501-808-X. 
    4. S-61R specs
    5. HH-3 specificatins on

    External links

    Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

    Related content

    Related development

    Designation sequence

    See also
    Template:Sikorsky Aircraft