The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that it will further boost the capacity of the deployed helicopter fleet through the awarding of an engine support contract for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Sea King helicopters.

The engine support contract worth £258m has been awarded to Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace and part of an existing series of contracts that will boost the capacity of the entire helicopter fleet by 60%.

The ten-year agreement with Rolls-Royce will provide a guaranteed delivery of the Gnome turboshaft engines for the Sea King fleet and covers engine support including the repair and overhaul of engines, provision of spares as well as delivery to MoD sites.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies said that The Sea Kings are an integral part of the UK Support Helicopter Force.

“The Sea Kings deliver a sterling effort in current operations in Afghanistan as well as in its high-profile search and rescue tasks within the UK. This new support contract will help to ensure that the aircraft is always available to carry out the crucial roles with which it is tasked,” Davies said.

The contract will deliver the required flying hours on our Sea Kings and allow for on average 20% more flying hours when compared to traditional contracts.

The contract will be managed at the MoD’s defence dquipment and support site at Yeovilton, Somerset and Rolls-Royce Bristol. The work will be carried out at Rolls-Royce facilities in Ansty, Coventry and Germany with subcontractors facilities embedded within the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

The contract is part of a significant increase in helicopter capacity in Afghanistan including a £70m investment to upgrade 12 Lynx mk9 helicopters with new engines, and plans to redeploy Merlin helicopters from Iraq to Afghanistan next year.

By Daniel Garrun.