US-based defence contractor AAR has been awarded a 10-year contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide helicopter search and rescue and support services in the Falkland Islands.

Valued at around £180 million ($275 million), the deal, which goes live in April 2016, will see AAR’s airlift division working alongside British International Helicopters – the current provider of rotary-wing support services on the islands – and Air Rescue Systems.

The partners plan to deploy AgustaWestland AW189s and Sikorsky S-61s for the requirement, although the exact number of each type has not been specified.

SAR cover for the Falklands and surrounding waters is presently provided by the Royal Air Force using Westland Sea Kings, which are to be progressively retired from April 2015.

Bristow Helicopters, which begins taking SAR operations in the UK from April this year, had been considered a favourite for the contract. Also on the MoD’s shortlist were Avincis, CHC Scotia and Cobham.