US Firm Wins Search And Rescue Contract

Britain's search and rescue helicopter service, including at Lee-on-Solent, is to be run by Texas-based Bristow Helicopters.

The Government's announced the £1.6 billion deal today - ending 70 years of a service run by the RAF and Royal Navy squadrons.

It also spells the end of the use of Sea King helicopters - flown by Prince William - in search-and-rescue (SAR) work.

The 30-year-old future Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is a Flight Lieutenant based at RAF Valley on Anglesey in North Wales, from where he commands missions to help stranded climbers and stricken vessels in the area.

Under the new contract, 22 state-of-the-art helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.

Ten AgustaWestland AW189s will operate, two per site, from Lee-on-Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick Airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports.

Meanwhile, ten Sikorsky S92s will be based, two per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh in Scotland, and at new bases at airports in Newquay in Cornwall, Caernarfon in Wales and Humberside.