Britain to send Sea King helicopters to Ukraine: Iconic aircraft which were retired by Navy in 2018 are donated alongside 10,000 artillery rounds as part of £50m defence package
- The UK will send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since Russian invasion
- Three former Sea King helicopters will now be sent to the war-torn country
- It comes after Rishi Sunak promised Ukraine £50 million for its defences
The Ministry of Defence has announced Britain will send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since the war began.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it will be the first time piloted aircraft have been sent to the war-torn nation since Russia’s invasion.
According to the BBC, three former Sea King helicopters will be provided. The first of which has already arrived in Ukraine.
Mr Wallace, who made the announcement from Oslo where he is meeting allies to discuss ongoing military support for Kyiv, added that the UK will also send an additional 10,000 artillery rounds.
The UK will send three former Sea King helicopters to Ukraine, one has already arrived in the country
Rishi Sunak recently made his first visit to Ukraine since taking office, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced the move in a meeting with allies in Oslo over the war in Ukraine
During a visit to Norway, Mr Wallace said: ‘Our support for Ukraine is unwavering.
‘These additional artillery rounds will help Ukraine to secure the land it has reclaimed from Russia in recent weeks.’
The Royal Navy provided six weeks’ training on Sea Kings in the UK for Ukraine’s armed forces and engineers, the Ministry of Defence said.
The fresh support follows a commitment to provide 1,000 surface-to-air missiles and 125 anti-aircraft guns.
Mr Wallace is in Norway meeting allied defence ministers on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used a visit to the Ukrainian capital to set out a new £50 million package of defence aid which included 125 anti-aircraft guns and equipment to counter Iranian-supplied drones.
The UK defence spending aims to ‘protect Ukrainian civilians and critical national infrastructure from an intense barrage of Russian strikes’.
It comes following intense bombardment by Vladimir Putin’s forces in recent weeks, with Ukraine saying Russia had rained down more than 148 missile strikes on critical infrastructure, leaving approximately 10 million people without power.
The Prime Minister pledged £50 million to support Ukraine’s defences following his visit
In his surprise visit to Ukraine, the Prime Minister pledged the UK’s continued support to the country in a joint press conference will President Zelensky.
Mr Sunak said: ‘The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world.
‘In years to come, we will tell our grandchildren of your story.’
Mr Sunak pledged Britain ‘will stand with you until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves and then we will stand with you as you rebuild your great country.’
The Prime Minister met first responders at a fire station who described their harrowing work fighting huge blazes caused by rockets, as well as having to pull survivors from the rubble.
He was shown around captured Russian military vehicles and hardware including Iranian-made drones, which have been used to target and bomb civilians in recent months.
Mr Sunak said it was ‘deeply humbling’ to visit Kyiv ‘and to have the opportunity to meet those who are doing so much, and paying so high a price, to defend the principles of sovereignty and democracy.’
The ‘Land Rover of the skies’: Flown by royalty and key in the 2003 Iraq war – the story behind Britain’s iconic Sea King ‘Junglies’
The Sea King helicopters are among the most recognisable aircraft in the RAF and British Navy.
They are known as the ‘Junglies’ in a nod to the historical role helicopter commando squadrons played in Borneo in the 1960s.
Dubbed the ‘Land Rover of the skies’ and the ‘Green Giants’ of the Fleet Air Arm, the Sea King was in service with the Commando Helicopter Force from 1969 to 2016.
The helicopters were used in the Falklands, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The helicopters were used during the Falklands War and Iraq, as well as for search and rescue operations
As well as ferrying the green berets into action, the helicopters were used to deliver essential supplies, including field guns and Land Rovers.
Most recently they saw action in Iraq and were instrumental in the opening hours of the 2003 war with Saddam Hussein by landing Royal Marines on the Al Faw peninsula.
They have also been used for thousands of rescue operations across the country before they were retired.
Prince William piloted a Sea King helicopter while based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales from 2010 to 2013.
The Prince, flying as Flight Lieutenant William Wales, completed 156 missions with the search-and-rescue team, including one that saved a 16-year-old swimmer.
The famous helicopters were given a poignant final farewell by the military in 2016 as they looped over the West Country in a six-hour flypast.
Members of the public turned out to see the aircraft on their final flight as they passed by Glastonbury Tor and while RAF and Navy members paid tribute to its contribution to military and humanitarian efforts over the decades.
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