Sea Dragon Bows Out


The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force retired the Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon (export designation S-80M-1) on March 3, 2017. On February 20, 111 Kokutai carried out its last training flight on aircraft serial number 8625 from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Japan is the sole export customer for the Sea Dragon, operating 11 airframes since 1989. In May 2015, the US Navy signed a contract to purchase two decommissioned MH-53Es from Japan for parts, including 12 engines and two tow booms. AgustaWestland MCM-101 Merlins now conduct the duties once performed by the Sea Dragon using the AQS-24A airborne mine hunting system: the AES-1 airborne laser mine detection system and the Mk104 acoustic minesweeping device. Chen Chuanren