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HeliTorque :: View topic - Further delay in SAR-H announcement
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HeliTorque Forum Index » EMS, SAR & Law Enforcement

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Further delay in SAR-H announcement
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:15 pm    Post subject: Further delay in SAR-H announcement Reply with quote

Further delay in SAR-H announcement
December 16, 2010

The UK government has postponed a planned announcement about future plans for search and rescue helicopters.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said on 16 December that within the last 48 hours the preferred bidder, Soteria, ‘had become aware of a possible issue in connection with its bid’.

Soteria, a consortium of CHC, Thales and the Royal Bank of Scotland, was chosen as preferred bidder for the SAR-H programme to harmonise the UK fleet of search and rescue helicopters.

The programme would replace the fleet of Sea Kings operated by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy with Soteria-operated Sikorsky S-92s under a 25-year private finance initiative contract.

Soteria was awarded preferred bidder status in February. However in June the project, which has been variously quoted as costing £4.6 billion to £6 billion, was put on ice as it came under review by the new coalition government.

Mr Hammond said: ‘In the circumstances it is not appropriate for us to proceed with the planned announcement until the status of this issue has been clarified.’

He added that a further statement would be made House of Commons as soon as the government was able to provide further information ‘and to set out our plans for proceeding to secure the provision of search and rescue helicopter capability in the future’.

‘We regret the further uncertainty that this entails for all those involved in providing the UK's search and rescue service.’

A spokesman for Soteria told Rotorhub.com: 'Soteria recently became aware of a potential issue that it believed merited further discussion with the IPT [Integrated Project Team]. Soteria will provide no further comments until our discussions with the IPT are complete and the matter is satisfactorily resolved.'

The review of the SAR-H contract has now taken longer than the government’s entire Strategic Defence and Security Review process, which reviewed the UK’s defence needs for the next five years.

By Tony Osborne, London
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