LONDON — AgustaWestland has secured a 258-million-pound ($419 million) deal with the Defence Ministry to keep Britain’s nearly 90-strong fleet of Sea King helicopters flying until 2016.
The contract is the final part of the Sea King Integrated Operational Support program. The U.K. arm of AgustaWestland and the MoD agreed to the program in 2007. The deal will provide maintenance for the helicopters, which have been in service with the British military for more than 40 years. AgustaWestland is owned by Italy’s Finmeccanica.
The helicopters provide civilian search and rescue, airborne surveillance, and Royal Marine troop movement.
The Sea King will be replaced by refurbished former Royal Air Force Merlin helicopters.
Search-and-rescue duties will be outsourced to a contractor by April 2016.
The Department of Transport is running a competition to select the winning contractor.