Cobham has won a A$640 million ($559 million) contract to provide search and rescue (SAR) services to the Australian government between 2016 and 2028.

Under the deal, which Cobham won in an open bidding process, the company will provide four Bombardier Challenger 604 aircraft equipped for the SAR mission, says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in a statement.

Much of the modification work on the General Electric CF34-powered Challengers - which will receive a new sensor suite, observation windows and air operable doors for aerial delivery of survival equipment - will be undertaken at Cobham’s facilities in Adelaide starting later this year, says the company.

Challenger AMSA


From the start of the contract in August 2016, Cobham aircraft will operate from Perth, and will add Cairns and Melbourne by the end of that year.

Missions will include searching for missing people, locating distress beacons, providing communications support, and dropping survival equipment.

“This contract will continue the search and rescue capability for AMSA utilising Bombardier Challenger 604 jet aircraft specially modified for this role,” says AMSA chief executive Mick Kinley.

“The future capability will use faster and longer range aircraft to provide a similar level of capability to our current service, but using fewer aircraft.”

AeroRescue, the present contractor for the operation, will continue in place until August 2016.