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Sir Alan Beith MP: "We will lose out from not having them on our doorstep"

Search and rescue helicopters, including Sea Kings operating out of RAF Boulmer in Northumberland, are set to be replaced by a new fleet operated by an American company.

Under the new contract operations will end at RAF Boulmer and 22 new state-of-the-art helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.

Bristow, the American company who won the contract, say that the new fleet will be more advanced than the Sea King.

However, the MP for Berwick - Sir Alan Beith - told ITV News that the move will be sad for the community.

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Bristow Group takes over UK search and rescue from RAF

A search and rescue helicopter based at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland Credit: RAF

A private company is taking over the UK's helicopter search and rescue operations.

The Department for Transport announced the 10 year agreement with Bristow Group will start in 2015.

The £1.6 billion deal ends 70 years of search and rescue from the RAF and Royal Navy.

Under the new contract, 22 helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK, including RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

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New rescue helicopters 'will reach larger area of UK'

The Department for Transport has said that under the new contract helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK Search and Rescue region within an hour of take-off than is currently possible.

An RAF Sea King helicopter that will no longer be used under the new contract. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

It added that, based on historic incident data, it is estimated there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 percent (from 23 to 19 minutes).

Presently, approximately 70 percent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK SAR region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85 percent of the same area would be reached within this time frame.