The UK Ministry of Defence could pay a private contractor up to £9 million ($14.5 million) to supply aircraft and personnel to perform casualty evacuation (Casevac) tasks and other support duties during major exercises involving its armed forces in Kenya.
Outlined on 4 October, the requirement to support the Nanyuki-based British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) would have a service length of up to 25 months from March 2013, according to the MoD.
"Casevac and general support cover is required for permanent staff based in Nanyuki and supporting training exercises which are conducted on field training areas and include weapons live firing," the MoD says. "Exercise conditions are austere and demanding, with the physical environment itself presenting considerable risk of injury, with troops covering large distances on foot and by vehicle."
The ministry says the availability of contractor-operated Casevac aircraft will enable it to meet a doctrinal requirement to respond to emergencies within periods of between 10min and 4h.
Supplied aircraft would be required to transport at least one stretcher-borne casualty and associated medical personnel over a maximum distance of 162nm (300km) - far enough to reach medical facilities in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. They also would be required to carry less seriously injured patients to a field hospital closer to the dispersed exercise areas, which are found in terrain up to 8,200ft (2,500m) above sea level. The type must be capable of operating from unprepared landing sites in any weather condition and by day or night.
"There will be a need to support up to two separate but simultaneous training exercise areas to evacuate casualties from the point of wounding," the MoD says.
Royal Air Force Puma HC1s are currently used during UK exercises in Kenya
The strength of the UK's military presence in Nanyuki fluctuates between 300 and 1,700 personnel, the MoD says, with around six major exercises currently being conducted per year, each lasting around six weeks. Providing vital training for personnel before their deployment to Afghanistan, these also involve Joint Helicopter Command assets, including Royal Air Force Eurocopter Puma HC1 transports.
In addition to providing Casevac cover, the selected contractor could be called on to perform duties such as range-clearance work after live-firings, making reconnaissance and photographic flights during exercises, or using reserve aircraft to support manoeuvres.
"The contractor shall be responsible for all setup, administration and recovery costs and must operate within Kenyan Civil Air Authority regulations at all times," the MoD says. It intends to issue a pre-qualification questionnaire to potential bidders after receiving any expressions of interest.