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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The iconic yellow helicopter of RAF Search and Rescue Squadron 22 has flown for the final time at Chivenor, North Devon.