SH-2 Seasprite

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The Kaman SH-2 Seasprite is a ship-based helicopter with anti-submarine, anti-surface threat capability, including over-the-horizon targeting. This aircraft extends and increases shipboard sensor and weapon capabilities against several types of enemy threats, including submarines of all types, surface ships, and patrol craft that may be armed with anti-ship missiles. It was developed for the United States Navy beginning in the late 1950s.

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Design and development

To meet its requirements for a fast, all-weather utility helicopter the US Navy held a competition in 1956.[1] Kaman's K-20 model was selected as the winner.[2] Kaman was awarded a contract for four prototype and 12 production HU2K-1 helicopters in late 1957.[1] The Kaman design featured four blades on the main rotor and three blades on the tail rotor with a single General Electric T58-8F turboshaft engine.[2]

When the aircraft numbering system was changed in 1962, the HU2K-1 was redesignated the UH-2A and the HU2K-1U was redesignated UH-2B. The UH-2 was used from aircraft carriers for search and rescue. The airframe continued to undergo upgrades, such as the addition of external stores stations. Beginning in 1968, remaining UH-2s were upgraded to use two T58 engines.[3]

The UH-2 was selected to be the airframe for the interim Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter in October 1970.[3] LAMPS evolved in the late 1960s from an urgent requirement to develop a manned helicopter that would support a non-aviation ship and serve as its tactical Anti-Submarine Warfare arm. Known as LAMPS Mark I, the advanced sensors, processors, and display capabilities aboard the helicopter enabled ships to extend their situational awareness beyond the line-of-sight limitations that hamper shipboard radars and the short distances for acoustic detection and prosecution of underwater threats associated with hull-mounted sonars. H-2s reconfigured for the LAMPS mission were redesignated SH-2D.[3] The first operational SH-2D LAMPS helicopter embarked on the USS Belknap (CG-26) in December 1971.

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