I am told Gap SAR may well start earlier than July 2013 depending which bidder wins and what they are offering. Its to be a 4 year contract from the start date with possibility of a years extension ...so Gap could finish well before 2018. If the MoD Seakings are going before the end of 2016 as SDSR said, then we should hear something soon I would expect about the bigger replacement competition if there's going to be a chance to have a good competition and get it sorted in time. Wonder who is going to pay for it this time - the Greek banks? Anyone for "SAR-H 2" - 12 bases of S92s? I hope not as so much has happened since the SAR-H winner was chosen. I expect too many politicians will want to stick their noses iand spoil the whole competition.
They will still have to sort out the issue of funding - since PFI is clearly not the political favourite any more, DfT are going to need a big budget to pay for UKSAR. With no military involvement, as seems likely, they won't have the ability to pull 70% of the finance from the MoD budget as was planned under SARH. 12 bases of R-66 anyone?
PFI is only a big word for renting assets and services rather than buying them, so Gap SAR has to be done that way; no one has the capital budget to do otherwise. The government has budget lines for nearly 30 helicopters at 12 bases now, so they’ll extend the lines, perhaps transfer them to one department, and keep going; there may be a fight but it can’t much change the outcome. Renting new machinery costs more because the contractor’s bank loan is bigger, so cutting to 9 bases increases the spend at each by at least 30%. The world will end, but not for a lack of competent SAR.
Fully agree Crab... There is no doubt some intriguing business going on behind the scenes to decide what happens to the MoD money that goes to pay for their SAR capability at the moment.... And who pays for the new UK wide service... Well apart from the taxpayer of course! ToD... Personally I dont wish for a 12 base S92 solution... But then I have never yet got my wishes... So what will happen will happen.
Neither the S92 or 225 (assuming they both remain in the running) are not without their issues after recent events, and some might argue that the 92 has yet to emerge from its recent problems with a complete clean bill of health. I am presuming that next time round, anyone who offers the 92 is likely to go for an upgraded version based on developments within the Canadian programme and improvements to the MRG and its lubrication system. There is rumour too of an upgraded 225... So you never know eh? In the commercial world, the 225 seems to be marching on regardless orders wise, so I am not convinced the next time aroumd there might not be a clsoer competition between the two.
No doubt someone in't Ministry will be letting us all know soon.
Sorry Manchester, while I'll go with most of your post, I have to disagree with your comment re PFIs. They are very much about someone buying and running the assets, not renting at all. Clearly its the banks who provide the money, but the chosen Supplier is most definitely buying the cabs. That said, it can then be viewed as the user of the service (HMG) as somehow renting the service... But it surely is not like aircraft leasing or similar.
Under PFI, the Government rents assets and/or services – it pays a standing order for use of a hospital or an SAR service, and the contractor holds any capital assets. However out of favour that approach may be, it saves the government the up-front capital cost and a payroll of civil servants to manage the process; it won’t die. How the supplier meets the requirement by leasing or buying is his worry (within the contract). PFI is definitely like renting as far as I, a taxpayer, am concerned.
Don't understand why TUPE would affect the choice of cab - most bases have the Sea King at the moment so any new contract will require a change of aircraft type and the new contractors could probably demonstrate both a technical and economic reason for moving people on if required, otherwise all the present military personnel would have to be offered the right to transfer to the new company.
Manc... Dont disagree with what your interpretation from a taxpayers perspective. It is unlikely however that any long term PFI that the assets would be leased... Whether hospitals or aircraft. They are bought and owned by the supplier invariably, and its often part of the deal that the government can buy the asset at the end of the PFI or if not they remain the contractors to do with as they wish.
Crab, I think heli 1's post refers to the GAP, not the SAR-H replacement programme... Which of course has yet to be announced. For a 4-5 year programme there is indeed a case that says retraining personnel is a more expensive option for such a relative short term contract. However, thats not to say it couldn't be achieved if any potetnial contractor had ways of amortising the costs elsewhere.
Tallsar, yes that would make more sense - so I hope the spares provision for the 139 is better than for the 101 - I gather the Canadians are so hacked off with AW they are considering buying pre-constructed spares (ie the ex-presidential airframes from the US) because they have been so badly seen off by the West Country pirates!
I wasn't sure the deal had been done so I was erring on the side of caution.
Unfortunately it is the English bit of AW that has a bad reputation, made worse by this spares debacle - UK business as a whole appears to have taken a hit in the eyes of the Canadians - everyone tarred with the same brush thanks to greedy and duplicitous spares contracts.
Actually Crab ,the Canadians have admitted that they under provisioned for spares from the start for the Cormorant in an effort to keep costs down ,with the result that they had to cannibalise aircraft and then put more hours on the rest of the fleet ,which increased overhaul needs for which they had insufficient spares, and so on and so on. By buying the US AW101s they are still trying to do things on the cheap.
How about a few words from the horses mouth on spares and availability.......
ON THE AVAILABILITY OF THE CH149 CORMORANT FLEET
Studying the performance measure of the fleet relating to Search and Rescue (SAR) standby aircraft availability in an ideal sparing situation provides an answer as to whether the fleet’s poor availability is a result of its maintenance programme (which includes its scheduled inspections and maintenance, corrective maintenance, and so on), and whether or not the problem of the fleet’s availability could possibly be solved by solving the logistical problem.
It was found that in order to meet the target range, at least 7 aircraft are required at MOB Comox, and at least 6 aircraft are required at all other MOBs assuming an ideal access to spares. Hence at least 25 or 19 aircraft are required if four or three bases are desired, respectively.
Additionally, it was shown that a 25% reduction in the durations of the major, minor, and out-of-sequence inspections of the aircraft had significant impacts on the number of aircraft required. It was found that with these reductions in place, only 5 aircraft would be required at each base in an ideal sparing situation, for a total of 20 aircraft if 4 MOBs are in operation, or a total of 15 aircraft if 3 MOBs are in operation. It should not be expected that the current fleet of 14 aircraft can operate indefinitely from 4, or even 3, MOBs without significant changes to the fleet’s maintenance program.
These results imply that the fleet’s availability problem (of not meeting the target range for the performance measure) cannot theoretically be solved simply by addressing the logistical problem of the spares – the maintenance demands of the fleet need to be reduced or the size of the fleet would have to be increased in order to meet the performance measure’s target range.
What an utter load of bollocks that paper is - there is no real data in it at all, just simulations, estimations and comparisons with no basis in reality.
Exactly how the minor and major servicings could be reduced in duration is not even hinted at but that is the main thrust of the paper - reduce duration of servicing to increase availability.
Where is the real data from the engineering line - if minors and majors take too long, is it because they always end up waiting for spares???
The paper was written by a non-military, non engineer whose job appears to be playing with statistics and we all know the old adage about them.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY RAMAN PALL received a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Ottawa. He is currently a defence scientist with DRDC CORA. His research interests include military operations research, operational logistics, inventory management, transportation modeling, and simulation modeling. He has been published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals and has authored several internal technical papers. Mr. Pall is also involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. His e-mail address is
The paper is also 3 years old and it is only this year that the Canadians have been forced to buy the VH aircraft in order to improve their front-line availability.
It would appear that maintenance of the 149's is a contractor provision so no doubt they are blaming AW whilst AW blame the contractors.
Does integrity and reputation count for nothing in commerce any more??
In the UK forces in general, and the rotary world in particular, there is a HUGE amount of uncertainty about what will happen in the near future. Will Merlin go to the Navy? Will RAF get Puma 2? etc etc.
A mate in a position to know as much as anyone, told me yesterday to get ready for the Seaking OSD to, and I quote 'move right significantly - I'm talking years, not months...'.
Apparently Gov't are waking up to the potential of an extended life Seaking to save money in the short term. If he had more detail he did not share it, but he is working in the place, and a position, to know what is being discussed. Of course, it may well only ever be discussed, but he thinks this one has legs, and may run. Here's hoping...