The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced plans to close the Aeronautical Rescue and Coordination Centre (ARCC) at Kinloss Barracks in Moray, Scotland.
The relocation of the country’s only search-and-rescue co-ordination centre to Fareham on the south coast of England, is expected to affect a total of 27 Royal Air Force (RAF) and ten civilian posts.
Based at Kinloss since 1997, ARCC assists the emergency services by coordinating with RAF, the Royal Navy and Coastguard search and rescue helicopters, as well as the RAF mountain rescue service.
A UK Government spokesman said: "The relocation of the aeronautical rescue co-ordination centre (ARCC) to the National Maritime Operations Centre at Fareham will combine the aeronautical and maritime rescue co-ordination functions, resulting in a better service for those in distress.
"The new UK search-and-rescue service will use brand new, faster helicopters to cut average response times and provide a more reliable overall service.
"Work is ongoing to clarify whether the civilian posts are transferable to Fareham, and we will consult with trade unions and fully support staff throughout this process."
Westminster Scottish National Party leader and defence spokesman Angus Robertson called the closure as ‘devastating’ for Kinloss personnel, for Moray constituency, and for Scotland, saying: "It is the latest in a series of disproportionate MoD cuts to defence bases, capabilities and personnel.
"Two out three Scottish airbases have been cut, the entire maritime patrol fleet has been scrapped, and we have the lowest military personnel numbers in Scotland in living memory.
"That the closure announcement is happening in the middle of a life-threatening storm, and comes only weeks after the independence referendum tell you much about the cynical approach of the MoD and the UK Government."
However, the spokesman confirmed to BBC News that the MoD’s commitment to Scotland is clear, adding: "By 2020, Scotland will be home to one of three Royal Navy main bases, including all its submarines, one of the British Army’s seven Adaptable Force Brigades, and one of three Royal Air Force fast jet main operating bases.
"Just last week the defence secretary visited the new aircraft carriers being built in Rosyth.
"While there, he confirmed that the Type 26 frigates will be built on the Clyde. This will maintain thousands of jobs in Scotland."
ARCC receives more than 3,600 requests for assistance each year, deploying assets on more than 2,600 occasions, and directly assisting more than 2,100 people.