Cuts Watch #77: Search and Rescue Helicopters
Today’s announcement of the review of recent spending decisions included £2 bn of cancelled projects and £8.5 bn worth of suspended projects. The joint MoD/Department for Transport Search and Rescue Helicopters initiative accounts for three quarters of the value of the suspended projects.
The programme’s objective is to replace the military and civil search and rescue service currently provided by the RAF and the Navy, using Sea King helicopters, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The Sea King first flew in 1959 and has been retired from the US Navy. In February, it was announced that the replacement would be the Sikorsky S-92A, which is 30 per cent faster and has a 70 nautical miles greater radius of operations. For the first time, search and rescue service helicopters would be able to take part in low-level night-time operations. At the time, the Conservative front bench called on the last government to suspend the signing of the contract until after the election.