The UK will later today confirm its preferred bidder selection for the joint Ministry of Defence and Maritime and Coastguard Agency SAR-H search and rescue helicopter deal.

The parties face a choice between the Eurocopter EC225 and Sikorsky S-92 to meet their SAR requirements from 2012, with the aircraft being offered by the respective AirKnight and Soteria consortia.

Comprising British International Helicopters, Lockheed Martin and VT, AirKnight outlined its proposal at last June's Paris air show, citing the EC225's experience in providing SAR services for multiple operators. Its military version, the EC725, is also in use with the French air force for combat SAR duties.

 EC225 - Patrick Penna Eurocopter
© Patrick Penna/Eurocopter

Soteria partner CHC already delivers SAR cover for the maritime agency from two locations in Scotland using the S-92 under an interim, five-year deal. The company is teamed with Thales UK and RBS for the SAR-H opportunity, which is likely to be awarded under a roughly 25-year private finance initiative agreement.

 S-92 - MCA
© Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The selected aircraft will be based at 12 locations around the UK, and on the Falkland Islands.

Originally due to have reached a selection decision late last year, the SAR-H deal is considered unlikely to reach contract signature in April as planned because of the UK general election, which is expected to take place the following month.

Source: Flight International