AAR Airlift has been awarded a £180 million contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to provide a 10 year search and rescue service for the Falkland Islands.

An AgustaWestland AW189
An AgustaWestland AW189

The contract will be supported by British International Helicopters, headquarted in Coventry in Warwickshire. The contract will begin in April 2016.

The contract will see Illinois based company AAR Airlift operate an undisclosed number of AgustaWestland AW189 SAR and Sikorsky S-61 support helicopters out of RAF Mount Pleasant, covering the islands and surrounding sea.

Randy J. Martinez, President & CEO, AAR Airlift Group said:

“This award presents a tremendous opportunity for AAR Airlift’s business as part of our strategy to diversify our capabilities and customer base. We are thrilled that our exemplary record of safety, reliability and operational performance has earned us the confidence of the UK Ministry of Defence to deliver this critical service.”

Ian Craddock of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support department, said:

“I have every confidence that AAR Airlift has the capability and experience to provide a search and rescue service that maintains the high standards set by the Royal Air Force, who we must thank for the service they have delivered to date.

We will work closely with AAR through the period of transition, with the RAF continuing to provide search and rescue cover until the new service starts. I am also pleased that AAR will be sub-contracting British International Helicopters, who is already successfully providing support helicopter services in the Falkland Islands, to support delivery of the combined service.”

Stipulated emergency readiness states will vary from 15 minutes to 60 minutes response times.

Based in Wood Dale, Illinois in the United States, AAR Airlift currently provide passenger and cargo transport, emergency aerial medical services and other special mission services for defence customers in Afghanistan, Africa, the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific.

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Mark Edwards
6 years ago

The RAF/RN SAR service will end when the Sea King is retired – cost cutting.

David Anthony Simpson
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark Edwards

No money saving despite the very capable new aircraft to be used – and those savings can be spent on more significant defence capabilities like new ships or fighter aircraft.

Philip Spencer
6 years ago

why do this we have the equipment

David Anthony Simpson
6 years ago
Reply to  Philip Spencer

What equipment?

Nobby Hall
6 years ago

Culdrose SAR is going soon. 8 cabs to be replaced by 2 at Newqjay airport. There’s a pool of experienced aircrew available for a few years then nothing. The civvy companies don’t train for cliff work like we do. It’ll be a whole new ball game and I hope nobody suffers for it.

dave simpson
dave simpson
6 years ago
Reply to  Nobby Hall

Only 2 of 771’s Sea Kings are dedicated to SAR. The 2 S92s at newquay will be far more reliable and available than the old Sea King. As for nonsense that the new service cant work on cliff rescue – please stop pushing out such nonsense.

Colin Leatham
6 years ago

Out Sourced Britain

John Seddon
6 years ago

acronyms! please, always put meaning within brackets : SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar).