Two new Sikorsky S-92A helicopters have been delivered to Mount Pleasant Complex (MPC), the headquarters of British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI).
These modern airframes, operated by Bristow Group Helicopters, represent a significant upgrade from the previous Sikorsky S-61N platforms, which have filled the role of support helicopter in the Falklands for the past seven years on the current contract.
Brought into Mare Harbour by the Falkland Islands Resupply Ship (FIRS), the helicopters and their highly trained crews will be on hand to primarily provide a support helicopter capability through the logistical movement of people, spares and supplies around the island.
Earlier this summer, Bristow Group started using the Sikorsky S-92A for tasking, marking the start of the withdrawal of the S-61Ns, which a crucial capability to British forces. Both S-92s are now fully operational.
Barry Paton, team leader of the Multi Helicopter Platforms delivery team at DE&S, said:
“We are proud to have worked collaboratively with our colleagues at Strategic Command and industry to deliver this significant uplift in capability which will provide a sustained long-term capability in the Falkland Islands.”
Bristow Group Helicopters will also continue to operate the highly effective Leonardo AW189 in a search and rescue role.
The introduction of the new Sikorsky helicopters will come with benefits to the Ministry of Defence as the S-92A is equipped with more modern systems, is more reliable, and can operate in poorer weather conditions than its predecessor.
Further improvements will be made by cross-training engineering staff to service and maintain both aircraft types and aligning shift patterns to allow efficient operations across the entire organisation.
The upgrade marks another successful collaboration between DE&S and Strategic Command – known as Defence’s integrator and responsible for running the UK’s network of overseas bases.
Group Captain Grindlay, Deputy Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands, said:
“The support helicopter transition is now complete, with Bristow flying people and freight across the Falkland Islands using both new Sikorskys. The second new S-92 arrived recently and has now taken over from the older S-61 – a stalwart of these islands.
“This iconic aircraft has now started its well-earned retirement after 40 years of service. Alongside the Leonardo AW189, which provides round-the-clock search-and-rescue cover, the new S-92s offer our forces modern aircraft equipped for the challenges of the Falklands environment now and in the future.”