Houston-based Bristow Group has won a contract worth $2.4 billion to operate the search-and-rescue service. It will take over the work from Royal Navy and Royal Air Force squadrons, which have run the service for 70 years.
Bristow president and CEO William Chiles says the company will replace Britain’s aging Sea Kings with more advanced helicopters to provide better service.
“These helicopters are now 50 years old. They’re in serious need of replacement with new technology — aircraft that have a lot more range, capability, and payload. The UK Government’s at the point where they have to turn around and replace all those helicopters themselves and spend a lot of capital, or they have the opportunity to privatize and let a private company come in and make that investment.”
Prince William flies a Sea King on rescue missions for the Royal Air Force. His tour is due to end later this year, before the RAF stops its search and rescue operations in 2016.