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21
Radar Christmas Present for Helicopter Museum

 The Helicopter Museum (THM) in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset took delivery of an obsolete Seaspray Mk 1 surveillance radar system as an early Christmas present on 14th December, for its recently restored Westland Navy Lynx HAS Mk.2 prototype.

The Lynx HAS Mk.2 in the museum collection was the second prototype (XX910), which carried out the early flight testing of the Lynx Seaspray installation and the associated Sea Skua air-to-surface missile system.  At the time a Cold War threat had emerged from missile-armed fast attack boats in service with the Soviet and Warsaw Pact navies.  The potential damage these craft could inflict was demonstrated in October 1967, when Styx missiles fired from a Russian-built Komar class attack boat of the Egyptian Navy sank an Israeli destroyer.
 
Seaspray was designed specifically for the Lynx to counter this threat.  This required a forward-scanning, lightweight and compact, high performance all weather surveillance radar that could detect and track small fast-moving surface targets at significant distances and provide illumination and guidance support for the Sea Skua anti-surface vessel guided missile, being developed concurrently by the BAC Guided Weapons Division.  The contract to develop Seaspray was issued to Ferranti Radar Systems in Edinburgh in 1969, with flight testing in XX910 getting underway in 1974.

These trials were completed in early 1975 at Portland, Dorset where the radar was assessed against fast patrol boats off the Dorset coast, despite interruptions by Russian surveillance trawlers trying to gather the top secret electronic data.  Following a lengthy test career, XX910 was donated to the museum in 2000 and earlier in 2011 underwent restoration by a team of volunteers at RNAS Yeovilton.  Acquisition of the radar system will complete this work.

Collections Officer Kathryn Tucker said “We have yet to decide whether to display the radar alongside XX910 or to install it in the aircraft, but a growing shortage of display space makes installation more likely.  Either way we shall try and ensure it is viewable by visitors”.

The system, which includes the scanner, transmitter, receiver, signal processor and control indicator has been donated by the Edinburgh division of Selex Galileo, following a meeting between the chairman of THM Trustees, Elfan ap Rees, and senior managers of the company at a “40th Anniversary of Seaspray” gathering during the 2011 Paris Air Show.  The Seaspray system was developed in Edinburgh by the former Ferranti Defence Systems company before it was later taken over by GEC-Marconi.  This in turn became part of BAE Systems before being acquired by Finmeccanica in 2007 and renamed Selex Galileo.

Later versions of Seaspray continue in production today for both rotary and fixed-wing applications, including the Lynx successor, the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, which is due to enter Royal Navy service soon.
 

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Comments

Satchell
Sunday, January 01, 2012 8:07 AM
Kudos to you! I hadn't thgouht of that!

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