New Search and Rescue Helicopter contract signed.

Dohville

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“These Helicopters will improve the capacity, range, speed and capability of Ireland’s search and rescue service,” states Dempsey.

New type Sikorsky S92A Helicopter on display at ceremony.

The Minister for Transport Mr Noel Dempsey, T. D. today signed the contract awarding the provision of Helicopter SAR services to CHC Ireland. Transition to the modern helicopters will start in July 2012, and will run for ten years; with an option to extend for a further three years on a year by year basis. It represents a marked improvement in the capacity, range, speed and capability of Ireland’s search and rescue service.

The contract represents a continuation of the existing level of service with the principal change being the replacement of the Sikorsky S61N aircraft, with the ‘new generation’ Sikorsky S92A aircraft. These aircraft will operate out of Waterford, Shannon, Sligo and Dublin.

Minister Dempsey said: “I am delighted to sign this contract which will provide for the delivery of a top-class SAR service operating out of Bases in Waterford, Shannon, Sligo and Dublin up to 2022. There are over 130 jobs in this service and we anticipate that over 20 new posts will be created. CHC Ireland has an excellent record in delivering SAR services to our Coast Guard. The contract provides for helicopters that will fly to the scene of the mission faster. They find the vessels or persons in the water more efficiently using better search, surveillance and tracking tools. This will provide better medical facilities onboard and return people in danger to safety in the shortest possible time.”

Minister Dempsey added: “I am also aware of the other supports that these helicopters can provide to the emergency services. These include Medevac for our Island and remote communities, mountain rescue, and emergency aeromedical transfer in support of the HSE. Last winter’s flooding response provided a practical example of the value and diversity of our SAR Helicopter service.”

The main role of the IRCG helicopters is to provide Ireland with 24/7/365 days a year maritime and coastal SAR rescue service. The helicopters will locate persons in distress or imminent risk, providing immediate medical treatment where required, and evacuating them to an appropriate place of safety. The helicopters are available to assist the other three blue light services (Garda, Ambulance Service and Fire Services) during major national emergency situations on land. They are also used to investigate possible marine pollution, support communities on the islands off Ireland and assist in evacuating the seriously ill or injured.
Ends

Further information:
Press Office Department of Transport: (01) 604 1090 / (01) 604 1091.






Notes to Editors:

CHCI will provide five Helicopters that are four Prime Helicopters and a Back Up Helicopter based initially at Shannon Airport. The first S92A will be commissioned at Shannon in the second half of 2012.

The Helicopters are maintained at a state of readiness of not more than 15 minutes from 0830 to 2200 local time, and not more than 45 minutes from 2200 to 0830 local time for each and every day of every year.



Possible Taskings include:

Undertaking SAR operations by day and night, including landing at remote inland areas and hospital landing sites for the purpose of lifting and delivering casualties.

Providing Paramedic-trained and accredited rear crew to assist and evacuate casualties and potential casualties from the sites of appropriate major emergencies on land, including flooding and providing an onboard emergency medical service.

Delivering trained Fire Brigade personnel and trained fire fighting teams with their equipment to ships at sea to direct the fighting of fires. The standard team consists of six personnel and six bags (a total of 900 kg) and must be carried in a single lift.

Delivering trained Health Service Executive (HSE) Marine Ambulance Response Teams (MART) or a similarly equipped and trained medical response team to ships at sea while equipped with Standard Role Equipment and relevant Carry-On Equipment.

Delivering a contractor-owned and maintained pump to vessels that are taking in water faster than their own pumps can handle.

Delivering a normal mountain or cliff rescue team to remote areas throughout Ireland and working with them in the search and rescue of stranded and/or injured people.

Recovering casualties from and operating with RNLI and other rescue boat operators.

Providing an emergency service for the communities on the islands off the west coast. As well as evacuating sick and injured people where life is at risk. The Helicopters may also be tasked to provide assistance in the event of major emergencies such as a fire, flood or deep snow.

Visually assessing, videoing, photographing and sampling marine pollution to assist the containment and dispersion process and to contribute evidence for prosecution and attending court if required.

Carrying loads within the Helicopter’s capability, such as equipment to counter marine pollution and flooding.

Carrying ships’ pilots and IRCG coordinated search, response, emergency or investigation personnel to and from vessels, installations, incident sites and islands as required.

Assisting the Principal Response Agencies (Garda, HSE, and local authorities), Defence Forces and other Government Departments as required in emergency situations.

Delivering Garda, Navy or similar Water Unit Minimum Dive Teams and their equipment in a single lift to a land destination near the scene of water rescues.

Provide a distress monitoring, and when necessary a communication and coordination service on VHF marine frequencies when airborne.


Crew Experience:

Captains

Total helicopter hours 2500 hours
Hours in command of multi-engined helicopters 1000 hours
Hours on type 250 hours*
Hour in command on type 100 hours*

Co-Pilots

Total helicopter hours 750 hours
Hours on multi-engined helicopters 350 hours
Hours on type 50 hours

Winch Operators

At least one year’s experience as a Winch Operator on a dedicated military or civilian SAR unit and at least the EMT qualification accredited by PHECC.

Winchpersons

At least three months experience as a Winchperson on a dedicated military or civilian SAR unit and at least the Paramedic qualification accredited by PHECC.


The S92A:

The S92A will:

• Hover in strong wind up to 35 knots crosswind and tailwind.
• Land, shut down and start on ground sloping up to 10 degrees nose up or down, 13 degrees laterally.

Aircraft Equipment:

• Active Vibration Control to provide better patient care and reduce crew fatigue.
• Composite Blades providing optimised cruise and hover performance at reduced fuel burn rates.
• Modern Cockpit Display System (CDS) affording pilots with greater amounts of available information, allowing for greater safety and situational awareness.
• A 4 Axis Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) with Flight Director and Auto Hover capability to assist aircrew by providing automated search patterns and pinpoint transitions to and from the hover targets of interest regardless of day of day of weather conditions.

The S92A has one of the largest cabins of any helicopter in its class. At twenty feet long (6.10m) 6’ 6” inches feet wide (2.01m) and 6’ high (1.83m) the cabin is high enough for the crew to stand, move, manoeuvre patients without injury and deliver patient care effectively.

The aircraft standard range is in the region of 270 nautical miles that can be extended to over 300 nautical miles if required that allows for 30 minutes on scene and can lift over 20 survivors at maximum range. At 60 nautical miles 33 survivors can be recovered.

Maximum speed is in excess of 150 knots.

The Rotor Ice Protection System allows flight in icing conditions up to a maximum of 10,000 ft. The system also includes engine anti-icing through electrical and bleed air heating.
A great move, however it is tragic that the type to be introduced are the same type selected by the Air Corps some years ago, in a contract that was subsequently cancelled as there had been a bit of two stepping by the US ambassador at the time, the recently departed Mr Egan. One wonders how many lives were lost as a result of the decision to cancel that contract, and not re-commence. Instead the DoD shelved it, and Minister Smith spent the money on a new Government jet instead.

Watching Clodagh McKenna(for cooking tips) the other night, she spoke to a West cork fisherman, whose boat, Discovery had sunk. It happened off the south west coast, out of the range of Irish SAR helicopters. Luckily a passing cargo ship came to their aid, before they were finally rescued by a UK based helicopter.

Bad enough we are inward looking, mostly ignoring the fact we are surrounded by water, but we couldnt even rescue those of us who had gone to sea to earn a living.
 


Sync

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Great news. It's good to see Ireland addressing the shortcomings we had in A&S rescue.
 

former wesleyan

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Grumpy Jack

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I notice the Minister forgets to mention the cost - €500m over 10 years or €50m a year.

The service should never have been taken off the Air Corps in the first place.

That €500m would probably equip the the AC with a dozen S92s or similar choppers which would allow it to provide SAR as well as army support and disaster relief at home and abroad on UN missions.

Instead what did the AC get? A new jet for ministers and eight civilian helicopters painted green for the DF.

More FF cute hoorism that's degraded the Air Corps, robbed it of experienced personnel and pumped hundreds of millions into a foreign-owned private operator.

And, for all those who thinks it's a great deal for the taxpayer, we will be paying many millions to buy these five S92s but will never own them.

Had they been bought for the AC we would have use of them for the next 40 years.

Also, the new UK govt has stalled signing its planned £5 billion, 25-year deal with the same operator and other members of a private sector consortium because they don't believe it's value for money and want to re-examine the terms.

As for what the letter writer said in the IT, he is wrong re the AW139. It's only useful for limited inshore SAR while the S92 is capable of longer range operations and can carry more people. The UK is reviewing its use of the AW139 for SAR because it was found not to be suitable for many of the conditions faced off the UK coastline.

But his general thrust is correct - this service should belong with the Air Corps.
 
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cozzy121

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A great move, however it is tragic that the type to be introduced are the same type selected by the Air Corps some years ago, in a contract that was subsequently cancelled as there had been a bit of two stepping by the US ambassador at the time, the recently departed Mr Egan. One wonders how many lives were lost as a result of the decision to cancel that contract, and not re-commence. Instead the DoD shelved it, and Minister Smith spent the money on a new Government jet instead.

Watching Clodagh McKenna(for cooking tips) the other night, she spoke to a West cork fisherman, whose boat, Discovery had sunk. It happened off the south west coast, out of the range of Irish SAR helicopters. Luckily a passing cargo ship came to their aid, before they were finally rescued by a UK based helicopter.

Bad enough we are inward looking, mostly ignoring the fact we are surrounded by water, but we couldnt even rescue those of us who had gone to sea to earn a living.
bertie had to have a new jet for himself, sure doesn’t the French fella have a YACHT aswell!!
It wouldn’t do to have bertie flying around in an old jet, we’d be seen as the laughing stock of Europe.
Now don’t be bothering bertie about fishermen drowning, bertie doesn’t care..
 

thebig C

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Its good that we will now have enhansed SAR coverage provided by helicopters not of 1960s vintage! However, you can't overlook the cost and not wonder how much we would save had the original contract not been messed up by FF (yet again!)!!

I know, the AC can be very disfunctional and almost stalinist in terms of its working hours and maintainence practices, but, undoubtedly they would improve if €500 million was spent on them. Honestly, I do wonder sometimes, over on the Naval thread we see that €100 was hard fought and grudgingly given to the NS for extremely badly needed new vessels. Yet, €500 million sails through to a private company. I am not saying its corrupt, but,.....priorities?!

Sikorsky were farly elated at our order because at the time we were the first "military" customer. Even after the cancellation, I was reading articles were Sikorsky were confident that the order would be re-instated after any issues were ironed out. I know Eurocopter were threatening legal action. However, its worth noting that they have a history of litigation once they don't win contracts....they tried it when Portugal selected the EH101.

I guess nobody at the time properly estimated FFs ability to long finger!
 

Dohville

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There are elements in the Air Corpse keen to have a hand in SAR, if only to ensure their survival against a looming White Paper. They are the only arm of the DF who do not deploy overseas, and in a defence force whose primary task is engaging in Peace Support operations, the AC are becoming irrelevant. The Green helicopters spend all their time training for something they will never do, while the fixed wing aircraft get to fly th egovernment about. The exceptions are the 2 search planes, which would be better utilised by the Naval Service, and better located on the south or West coast, near their area of operations.
The fact is CHC Scotia or whatever they call themselves today provide a service far superior to anything the Defence Forces Provided prior to that. Air Corpse management were unable to take their heads out of government asses and demand proper equipment for the job. Everyone else in the world(as good as) used the Sea King, or a version of it, for search and rescue. The air corpse management insisted on a jack of all trades machine, and the unfortunate people of the Air Corps were lumbered with the Dauphin. A decision that ultimately ended with the Deaths of 4 crewmen. They were too small for what was expected of them, while they had on paper sufficient range for the job, this was only under ideal conditions. When the equipment essential for SAR was added, the extra weight reduced fuel capacity. This left the unfortunate crew of Dh248 running out of fuel on that tragic night in july 11 years ago.
When the air corps eventually relented and leased a Sea King(from CHC) for Sligo, the management again wanted to cut corners, in ways that many feared would again lead to loss of life. The crews took a risk and refused to follow the risky procedures, and the aircraft was withdrawn.
Combine this with the lack of facilities the crew were provided with at Tramore. They had to live a few miles from the airport, with no facilities to remain on site. When a civilian operator took over the first thing they did was provide proper rest facilities for SAR crew at the airport.
In any event the skills the Air Corps once had in SAR is gone. Its experience has moved to the civilian company, indeed many of the Private operators crew were once in the Air Corps and learnt their trade there.
When the Air Corpse had SAR exclusively, crew commonly complained that when they were due to carry out maintenance or training with an aircraft similar to those used for SAR, they would arrive in the morning to find it had been commandeered to bring minister x to open a shibeen in his/her constituency.
Finally, the major difference between the Private operator or the Civilian operator is that of maintenance. Private operator has a spare heli which it uses for training, which slots in to cover a machine out for maintenance. Its technicians can work 24 hours to get aircraft back in service. Air Corps does not have this. Its techs work office hours only, monday to friday and there does not seem to be the desire to change that.

In summary with the private company you get what you pay for, With the air corpse, under its current management, the helis will spend more time showing off to the public, as ministers use them as a personal taxi.

Until this changes, then leave it in the hands of the Private company.
 

thebig C

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Hey Dohville

VERY informative. So I guess if €500 million was spent on the AC it would be a case of "throwing good money after bad"!

Based on your above post, I think a thread on the problems/future of the AC would be in order:)

C
 

Grumpy Jack

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Its good that we will now have enhansed SAR coverage provided by helicopters not of 1960s vintage! However, you can't overlook the cost and not wonder how much we would save had the original contract not been messed up by FF (yet again!)!!

I know, the AC can be very disfunctional and almost stalinist in terms of its working hours and maintainence practices, but, undoubtedly they would improve if €500 million was spent on them. Honestly, I do wonder sometimes, over on the Naval thread we see that €100 was hard fought and grudgingly given to the NS for extremely badly needed new vessels. Yet, €500 million sails through to a private company. I am not saying its corrupt, but,.....priorities?!

Sikorsky were farly elated at our order because at the time we were the first "military" customer. Even after the cancellation, I was reading articles were Sikorsky were confident that the order would be re-instated after any issues were ironed out. I know Eurocopter were threatening legal action. However, its worth noting that they have a history of litigation once they don't win contracts....they tried it when Portugal selected the EH101.

I guess nobody at the time properly estimated FFs ability to long finger!
Big C, I spoke to a number of senior AC officers and TDs at the time of this fiasco. The AC selected the Eurocopter Cougar as its preferred choice but FF changed the procurement terms once Sikorsky offered offset sweetners to FLS (former Team Aer Lingus) at Dublin Airport ahead of the 2002 election.

When S92 was selected - against legal, DoD and DF advice - that's when Eurocopter threatened to sue. And that's why the contract was later dropped under the guise of cutbacks.

(Ideally they wanted the AW101 - as used by UK, Canada, Denmark and Portugal - as it was the most capable of the three but was also too expensive in terms of acquisition and operating costs.)

The AC never wanted the S92 as they would have been launch customer and some people at Baldonnel remembered the problems encountered with the Dauphins when AC was launch customer for it back in 1985. And it seems those lessons weren't heeded again when the AW139s were bought.

We were also the launch customer for the 'military' version of it - even though the AC selected and wanted the tried and tested American UH60/S70 Blackhawk - and were offered a better purchase deal by the Yanks. But FF were afraid of the fallout from buying pure military machines that are being heavily used by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and also by the Israelis - despite its capability and versatility.

More FF cute hoorism.
 

thebig C

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Big C, I spoke to a number of senior AC officers and TDs at the time of this fiasco. The AC selected the Eurocopter Cougar as its preferred choice but FF changed the procurement terms once Sikorsky offered offset sweetners to FLS (former Team Aer Lingus) at Dublin Airport ahead of the 2002 election.

When S92 was selected - against legal, DoD and DF advice - that's when Eurocopter threatened to sue. And that's why the contract was later dropped under the guise of cutbacks.

(Ideally they wanted the AW101 - as used by UK, Canada, Denmark and Portugal) as it was the most capable of the three but was also too expensive in terms of acquisition and operating costs.)

The AC never wanted the S92 as they would have been launch customer and some people at Baldonnel remembered the problems encountered with the Dauphins when AC was launch customer for it back in 1985. And it seems those lessons weren't heeded again when the AW139s were bought.

We were also the launch customer for the 'military' version of it - even though the AC selected and wanted the tried and tested American UH60/S70 Blackhawk - and were offered a better purchase deal by the Yanks. But FF were afraid of the fallout from buying pure military machines that are being heavily used by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and also by the Israelis - despite its capability and versatility.

More FF cute hoorism.
Thanks Gj.

I have heard something along those lines alright. What I never quite understood though, is that Military Aquisitions are aparently exempt from European competition laws. In other words where National Security is concerned a Government can pick what they want and for their own reasons. Which is why France buys French made equipment, Germany buys German made equipment etc!

As for the inducements offered by Sikorsky, all nations use them as part of defence negotiations....apart from Ireland. The problem in this case was that FF accepted Sikorskys offer of offsets with FLS. Aparently, a plank of the Eurocopter case was that , if asked, they could match or better the offer. Not just in defence but in other areas Ireland (Civil Service) has been castigated for not playing the procurment game to its own advantage!

Good point about prototype models. Seems we haven't learned past lessons!

C
 

The Caped Cod

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Good news for th e new S&R helicopter.

As regards the AC i general I thnk it should be merged with the Navy to make a coast guard but I know that annoys the boys inside the Big Blus Fence.

When Ireland bought two (I think) prop airplanes from the Swiss a few years back they sent over technicians to inspect them. The technicians were given the manuals but they were only in French, German and Italian so the guys ended up dointhte aeronautical equivelent of kicking the tyres. In the end though I don't think the had any trouble with them.
 

Parade Boy

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This is throwing good money away in the long term. Sure, the contractor will operate the service and hire in all the crews and maintenance personnel from all over. However, after eur 500 million is spent in 10 years Ireland inc will be left in the same position, ie no expertise.

The Air Corps have now lost the high-end flying and winching skills and on the job experience in all but there most senior flight crew. They do not train for offshore SAR anymore as its not one of thier roles and a private contractor with no loyalty other than money is performing a national service. There has been little problem to date with such an arrangement, however, an island nation with it's own fishing fleet and lots of other EU fishermen working in our waters should have a national capacity to carry out this vital service.

There is a difference between an official arm of the state carrying it out and contracting out. If the Air Corps were to carry out this service (in whole or part) Ireland would have the skills, personnel and equipment under its own control and have corporate knowledge of it. This is classic short term-ism.

This plays directly into the hands of the Dept of Defence who sole aim appears to be slash and burn.
 

seanmacc

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Sikorsky S-61 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Coast Guard are already using these things, one flies over my house everyday. As an island nation with one of the largest coastlines in Europe and one of the largest national water territories in the world you would wonder how they've actually gotten by without them. Our aircorps should be far bigger than it is and not limited to ferrying fatso and co, around the world.
 

Migrant Dub

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Positive move here!

I applaud it, tho I agree with others in saying that this task shouldn't have been removed from the Aer Corps.

One question tho from the press release. It said that:

"Possible Taskings include:

Undertaking SAR operations by day and night, including landing at remote inland areas and hospital landing sites".

In relation to a Dublin hospital, wasn't there something in the press maybe even here that helicopters cant land in this hospital?! surely this needs to be rectified also!
 

Dohville

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CUH got rid of its helipad in a recent extension to A&E.

Shur what would you want them aerochopters landing at the hospital for anyway. They'll only wake the patients...
 

sidney higginbottom

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This is throwing good money away in the long term. Sure, the contractor will operate the service and hire in all the crews and maintenance personnel from all over. However, after eur 500 million is spent in 10 years Ireland inc will be left in the same position, ie no expertise.

The Air Corps have now lost the high-end flying and winching skills and on the job experience in all but there most senior flight crew. They do not train for offshore SAR anymore as its not one of thier roles and a private contractor with no loyalty other than money is performing a national service. There has been little problem to date with such an arrangement, however, an island nation with it's own fishing fleet and lots of other EU fishermen working in our waters should have a national capacity to carry out this vital service.

There is a difference between an official arm of the state carrying it out and contracting out. If the Air Corps were to carry out this service (in whole or part) Ireland would have the skills, personnel and equipment under its own control and have corporate knowledge of it. This is classic short term-ism.

This plays directly into the hands of the Dept of Defence who sole aim appears to be slash and burn.

i'd certainly agree that, like rent, money spent on contracts rather than capital investment is money more wasted than if it had bought an asset outright, however i think it ignores the fundamental point that many, very knowledgable, posters have brought up - Ireland doesn't have a state organisation that is capable of running this service.

if it did the situation might be different, and more like the UK's where the government has two experienced, capable SARH providers (CHC and the RAF/RN Sea King force) and just needs to choose which it prefers. but the Irish government doesn't have that choice - it has CHC or, err... no one.

the AC has consistantly demonstrated that is is unwilling and unable to operate outside of Baldonnell, and doesn't do 24/7. it has, both by its own choices, and the procurement decisions made by the government, pushed itself out of the running for this service - it both no longer has the skills to run such a service, or the credibility to allowed to have a go.

one of the concerns within the UK military about the pending SARH contract that takes all SARH operations out of the military is that such skills will be lost forever, and won't be 'regainable' - and this is from an organisation that will continue to operate helicopters from ships in the North Atlantic winter and at 10,000ft in the Hindu Kush - if they feel that 'once its gone, its gone', then i would suggest that any chance of the IAC re-roling to SAR after a decade of not doing it, and to be honest, not doing much in the way of any other demanding helicopter operations, is pretty miniscule.

it might be unpleasent, but that ship has sailed - Ireland can either have a civilian contractor running SARH for a fortune, or it can have no one providing it.
 

hmmm

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I've great respect for our people, but the notion that the Aer Corps could deliver this for less money sounds like pie in the sky to me. We are buying a 24x7 service from an international firm who will provide the crew, maintenance and equipment and if something goes wrong they simply bring in someone or something from elsewhere in the world. The idea that the Aer Corps can have enough skill and redundancy in-house to compete on price with private contractors isn't reality.
 

BUREAUCRAT

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Grumpy Jack - Also, the new UK govt has stalled signing its planned £5 billion, 25-year deal with the same operator and other members of a private sector consortium because they don't believe it's value for money and want to re-examine the terms.
Grumpy Jack makes a good point. I wouldn't be surprised if the UK reduce their overall SAR coverage while Ireland is committed to paying for a Rolls Royce service with 4 x 24 hr stations and Aircraft that are more technically able than those heretofore. Against the backdrop of a further 3 Bn Euro cut in this year's budget and civil society being conditioned for huge health cuts there is a disconnect in policy coherency with decisions like this.
 
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sidney higginbottom

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Grumpy Jack makes a good point. I wouldn't be surprised if the UK reduce their overall SAR coverage while Ireland is committed to paying for a Rolls Royce service with 4 x 24 hr stations and Aircraft that are more technically able than those heretofore. Against the backdrop of a further 3 Bn Euro cut in this year's budget and civil society being conditioned for huge health cuts there is a disconnect in policy coherency with decisions like this.
i'd disagree that the CHC bid is a 'Rolls-Royce' service - its merely the RoI finally providing the bare minimum required for the sea area it has long had responsibility for.

this service level is one of the fundamentals of being a 1st world European maritime state - its like having an Air Traffic Control system and the Rule of Law - without it Ireland has no moral right to exploit its EEZ or sit at the table of 'proper countries'.

the UK may well look at other options than the CHC bid - or a initially cheaper version of it - but it has those options: it could look at dragging another 5 years out of the existing RAF/RN Sea King SARH fleet, it could choose to scrap the existing Sea King fleet and have SARH operated by the RN/RAF Merlin fleet (it might require a few additional airframes over the timespan of the life of the fleet, and some 'bolting on' of additional bits and pieces, but it would be a damn sight cheaper than CHC's bid), the aircraft has long range, large capacity, has day/night/all-weather flying capability, its three engines give it excellent over-water survivability, and it offers significant cost/availability advantages because the support infrastructure for such a force is already in place.

its not ideal because if its astonishing Main Rotor down-wash and large size, but its a lot better than many of the other options out there, probably quite a lot cheaper given the existing RAF/RN fleet, and certainly better than nothing.

Ireland, quite simply, doesn't have that option - it doesn't own or operate any aircraft remotely suitable for the role, hasn't operated in the role for a decade or more, and doesn't have a state organisation that anybody trusts with such a role.
 

Aindriu

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Er we are broke people! HM Coastguard and the RAF are more than capable of supplying our ASR needs. They have aircraft in the north, Anglesey and Somerset.
 


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