The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has, this month, published a tender notice for the Fleet Helicopter Support Unit (FHSU), inviting bids for a £50 million framework agreement.

The contract spans six years, starting from 31 January 2025 to 31 March 2031, with the deadline for submissions set for 05 July 2024 at 16:00.

This contract seeks to enhance the capabilities of the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Multi Helicopter Platforms (MHP) Project Delivery Team.

The primary objective is to acquire a contracted crewed capability that will provide medium-lift support helicopter services meeting the operational standards and training requirements of the Fleet Operational Standards and Training (FOST) and Navy Command (NC). The scope of the requirement includes providing a contractor-owned rotary wing Air System service for the Royal Navy.

The notice also adds that this service will facilitate point-to-point flights carrying military and non-military personnel, crucial for conducting operational sea training and supporting tasks such as the transportation of freight. The service will operate under a Military Registered Civil Operated Aircraft (MRCOA) contract, ensuring compliance with military operational standards while leveraging civil operational flexibility.

According to a pre-procurement notice published by the Ministry of Defence on the 16th of May, 2022.

“Indicative Requirement – Fleet Helicopter Support Unit (FHSU) – The user requires a contracted crewed capability that can provide a medium-lift maritime Support Helicopter (SH) capability to support tasking by day and night and in all weather conditions within the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) South Coast Exercise Areas (SCXAs) and wider UK Flight Information Region (FIR).

In addition to the principal task of transporting personnel and/or freight to, from and between ships at sea in the SCXAs for FOST, a further two requirements are under consideration for inclusion within the future FHSU contract:

  • Provision of land-based maritime airborne Search and Rescue (SAR) service for Maritime Counter Terrorism (MCT) Force Generation training. This would encompass supporting up to six (6) UK based exercises per year, each of up to one (1) week duration in two calendar blocks occurring in Spring and Autumn each year and requiring up to 24hrs flying per exercise.
  • This requires an assured ability to search for and recover individual persons from the sea at night, with an additional emphasis on being able to deliver them rapidly to specialist medical care in a timely manner.
  • A further emerging requirement may be to transport personnel and/or freight to the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) carrier and other UK based RN shipping based around an initial utilisation of circa 100hrs/yr.”
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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Whlgrubber (@guest_817691)
10 days ago

Surely this has to be the Merlin Mk4? Ticks all the boxes .

ABCRodney (@guest_817710)
9 days ago
Reply to  Whlgrubber

Way too expensive, IMHO this has Bristows written all over it. Global presence, Medium lift, Over water, SAR and used to working with Governments. They couldn’t have asked for more in a spec if they had written it themselves.
If anyone can suggest a logical alternative feel free ! 🤔

Mark F
Mark F (@guest_817739)
9 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

ABC, yes my thoughts as well. As I read the article I thought, who does “North Sea” work. It would be intriguing to see if any ex military/civil service have or will soon be in positions of management within Bristow.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_817755)
9 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

They used to use a pair of Dolphins, what was wrong with continuing with them?

ABCRodney (@guest_817892)
9 days ago

Hi M8, Firstly what a great weekend for gardening 🌻 The 2 Dauphins are now 33 years old and think only 1 is available. They aren’t owned or operated by MOD but a private company BIH. And to quite honest they really are way to small, when you consider that the passengers have to wear full immersion suits that’s space and weight. As in most things the devil is in the detail and they have added quite a few extra specs such as SAR, all weather and freight. So they need a bigger helicopter with twin engines. Bottom line is… Read more »

WSM (@guest_819541)
4 days ago

Quite depressing to see just how far we’ve descended when i can recall from memory how duties such as these would have been covered by Wessex from Daedelas and Portland 😔

david anthony simpson
david anthony simpson (@guest_819552)
4 days ago
Reply to  WSM

hats ridiculous – this service has been operating for over 30 years and does exactly what is required and not costing defence budget money better spent on front line activity and resources.