The ‘Team Soteria’ consortium, comprising CHC, Thales UK and equity partner RBS and offering the Sikorsky S-92, was selected as preferred bidder for the UK Minsitry of Defence’s £5bn (A$8.9bn) SAR-H search and rescue helicopter contract on February 9, beating rival consortium AirKnight (British International Helicopters, Lockheed Martin and VT) which had offered the Eurocopter EC225.
Around 24 S-92s will likely to be acquired to replace the MoD’s and Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) search and rescue assets, with the SAR service expected to come into phased service from 2012. CHC already provides SAR services for the MCA from two locations in Scotland using the S-92 under a five year interim deal.
The MCA’s four operating bases will be the first to receive the new helicopters, which will be painted in a new high visibility black and orange livery that will feature RAF, RN and MCA insignia. A further eight military SAR sites currently equipped with Westland Sea Kings flown by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will then become Team Soteria S-92 bases.
CHC’s Australian division indicated in mid December that it was searching for an interested buyer of its EMS and SAR contracts, which includes the Victoria Police Air Wing, RAAF SAR, Ambulance Service of NSW, ACT Snowy-Hydro Southcare and the Mackay, Queensland, based CQ Rescue helicopter service, even as CHC was bidding for the MoD/MCA SAR-H contract.