Sea King Mk7 ASaC
The Sea King Mk7 Airborne Surveillance and Control – known throughout the Navy as Baggers – are the ‘eyes in the sky’ of the Navy, searching for aerial threats to the Fleet – or suspicious movements on the ground in support of land forces. The nickname comes from the distinctive inflatable black sack or bag on the side of each helicopter. Inside that sack is the cutting-edge Searchwater 2000 radar capable of remarkably accurate detection of surface and air targets. Once enemy units are detected, the helicopter’s observers can direct friendly air, sea or ground forces to intercept – as they did with devastating effect during the fighting in southern Iraq in 2003. Right now it is committed in the skies of Afghanistan, where the surveillance equipment is vital for tracking the movements of insurgents.
849 Naval Air Squadron is the parent unit of the Airborne Surveillance and Control family based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall providing the two front line squadrons, 854NAS and 857NAS with trained pilots, observers and ground crew ready for front-line operations around the world.
854 and 857 Naval Air Squadrons take turns providing vital airborne monitoring of insurgent activity in southern Afghanistan, supplying ground units with key pieces of intelligence. They also deploy with carrier task groups in the more usual naval environment keeping track of aerial activity and keeping tabs on movements on the ocean.