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Search & Rescue helicopter deal worth £1.6 billion

The deal will mean the ed of the use of the Sea King helicopter Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The deal for Bristow Helicopters to run the country's search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter service is worth £1.6 billion.

It ends ends 70 years of SAR service from the RAF and the Royal Navy SAR squadrons. It also spells the end of the use of Sea King helicopters in SAR work. It is not known whether Portland, Culdrose or Chivenor will be affected.


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Background to Search and Rescue privatisation

A Sea King helicopter Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The plans to privatise search and rescue helicopters were laid originally out by the Labour government in 2006.

The plans were controversial, and designed to replace the ageing Sea Kings that were currently in use.

Soteria SAR was announced as the frontrunning bidder in February 2010, but a year later it was prevented from acquiring the contract due to several issues with the conduct of their bid team, as well as forming part of the coalition government's spending review.

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Factfile: The Sea King helicopter

The Sea King helicopter has been in service for over four decades, with a distinguished history with the Search and Rescue service as well as other assignments.

  • The Sea King has operated in 10 wars and been involved in 15,000 rescue operations
  • It has saved more lives than any other aircraft
  • It is reportedly Prince William's favourite aircraft


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