The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has shortlisted five companies to submit proposals for the Falkland Islands search-and-rescue (SAR) support helicopter service contract.
The companies include UK-based Avincis, Bristow Helicopters, CHC Scotia, FB Heliservices, and the US aviation support company, AAR International, reported Flightglobal.
All shortlisted rotorcraft operators have refused to provide details of their proposals, including the equipment or the number of aircraft offered.
The operation, which partly involves provision of SAR presence for the UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) Falklands-based four Eurofighter Typhoon fleet, is currently being performed by AgustaWestland Sea Kings helicopters, which are scheduled to be retired from 2015.
With a maximum ceiling value of between £100m and £150m, the contract seeks provision of an all-weather, round-the-clock SAR service, including for 'fast jet ejectees', over the next ten years.
In addition to this, the contract has a secondary requirement for support helicopter services to replace the operations of British International Helicopters, whose three-year contract with the MoD using two Sikorsky S-61 aircraft ends in 2016.
The MoD had originally included the Sea Kings replacement requirement in a broader, UK-wide SAR outsourcing, which was later dropped from the contract.
As a result, the ministry issued a separate initial pre-tender notice to the industry in August 2013, according to the news agency.
The selected companies have been directed to submit their respective proposals by 20 May, while the contract is scheduled to be awarded in early 2015.
Image: A Royal Air Force's Westland Sea King search-and-rescue helicopter in flight. Photo: courtesy of Arpingstone.