For as long as I can remember, the Westland Sea King has been the UK’s key search and rescue asset, flown by steady-handed crews from the Royal Air Force (Crown Copyright image of a HAR3A example below) and Royal Navy.
UK confirms SAR transition plan
By Craig Hoyle on 26 March, 2013 in Uncategorised
The type’s days were already numbered, with its retirement from use by the UK military scheduled in early 2016, but US-owned Bristow Helicopters has now been confirmed as the civilian contractor that will assume responsibility for delivering the life-saving mission, using a mixed fleet of Sikorsky S-92s and smaller AgustaWestland AW189s.
Our colleague Dom Perry filed a news update earlier about the £1.6 billion ($2.4 billion) “Long SAR” selection, which will deliver full capability from 2017 and run for an initial 10-year period.
As well as marking the end for the military’s provision using the current distinctive yellow Sea King HAR3/3As (RAF) and red and grey HU5s (Royal Navy – another Crown Copyright image follows), the move will also end SAR operations from bases at Boulmer, Chivenor, Culdrose, Leconfield, Lossiemouth, Valley and Wattisham.
Many people will have had experiences with SAR Sea Kings – my most abiding memory is of being woken up while in a tent on Dartmoor during a Ten Tors competition as one was in the process of landing not too far away. Draughty doesn’t even come close to describing the experience.
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