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£285M contract to support Navy Sea King helicopters

Published: 20 Dec 2012

The MoD has agreed a £258m contract to support Sea King helicopters, which will sustain 500 jobs across theUK.

The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force fleets of Sea Kings are best known for providing Search and Rescue (SAR) services in the UKand Falkland Islands. They can also be used to carry troops and provide airborne surveillance. This extension to the Sea King Integrated Operational Support (SKIOS) contract will ensure continued technical and maintenance support for the 90-strong helicopter fleet for the next three years.

The MoD originally signed the SKIOS arrangement with Agusta Westland in 2005 and this is the final phase of the deal which is expected to sustain around 500 jobs at Agusta Westland’s UK headquarters at Yeovil, in the industry supply chain and at several SAR bases across the UK.

This phase of the contract will provide support until Sea King is retired from service in 2016 and replaced by Merlin helicopters.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said:

“The Sea King helicopter fleet has been in service for over 40 years providing a vital capability in air/sea rescue and surveillance. This maintenance agreement, securing 500 jobs across the UK, demonstrates our commitment to keeping this aircraft in top condition until it is retired from service.”

Royal Navy Captain Tony Gray, Defence Equipment and Support Sea King Team Leader, said:

“Securing this contract ensures value for money for the taxpayer while maintaining the provision of search-and-rescue helicopters around the UK, 24 hours a day throughout the year.”

The MoD's fleet of Sea King helicopters totals almost 90 aircraft, comprising Royal Navy Mk.4 troop carrying aircraft, Mk.5 Search and Rescue aircraft, Mk.7 Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) aircraft and Royal Air Force Mk.3 and Mk.3A Search and Rescue aircraft.

Under the SKIOS contract Agusta Westland has responsibility for delivering Sea King Depth Maintenance, Second Line Workshop services, spares and technical support services.

The Sea King fleet, which entered service in 1969, will be retired in 2016. The Sea King Mk4 will be replaced by Merlin Support Helicopters (Merlin Mk3/3A); the Merlin Mk2 is expected to perform the Airborne Surveillance and Control role, taking over the role from the Sea King Mk7. The Department for Transport will have responsibility for the provision of UK SAR from April 2016, and the MoD is progressing a contractor-based solution for SAR support to the Falkland Islands.


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