HC Deb 14 July 1986 vol 101 c425W
Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state, by type and service, the number of military helicopters dedicated to search and rescue and where these are located; what information he has as to the number and type of civilian helicopters used for search and rescue; if he has plans to increase the use of the latter at the expense of the former; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman

Service helicopters are maintained at 12 locations in the United Kingdom to meet military requirements for search and rescue, and are made available for civil SAR tasks. RAF helicopters are deployed in pairs at nine stations and provide 24-hour cover:

Sea King Mk 3

  • RAF Lossiemouth
  • RAF Boulmer
  • RAF Coltishall
  • RAF Brawdy

Wessex Mk 2

  • RAF Leuchars
  • RAF Leconfield
  • RAF Manston
  • RAF Chivenor
  • RAF Valley

RN helicopters, drawn from operational pools of aircraft, provide SAR cover at three stations:

Sea King Mk 5 (24 hour cover)

  • RNAS Culdrose
  • RNAS Prestwick

Wessex Mk 5 (daytime cover)

  • RNAS Culdrose
  • RNAS Lee-on-Solent

On behalf of the Department of Transport, Her Majesty's Coastguard administers a civil Sikorsky S61N helicopter, which is contracted to provide a full SAR capability at Sumburgh airport. Any plans for changes to the provision of civil helicopters are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state for the last 12 months for which figures are available (i) the cost of and (ii) the number of missions flown by military and rescue helicopters.

Mr. Freeman

In the period 1 April 1985 to 31 March 1986 military helicopters were called out by rescue coordination centres for search-and-rescue missions on 1,245 occasions. The vast majority of these flights were made by helicopters dedicated to SAR. The full costs of the military SAR helicopters were approximately £53 million in the financial year 1985–86.