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18 December 2010 | Lindsay Clark
The UK government has delayed the
procurement process for a private finance initiative (PFI) contract to provide
a new search and rescue helicopter service.
Philip Hammond said this week he had planned to announce progress on
negotiations with the preferred bidder for a deal to provide helicopters,
training for aircrew and a coastal rescue service.
“However, the preferred bidder
has informed the Ministry of Defence
(MoD) it has become aware of a possible issue in connection
with its bid to provide the UK search and rescue capability, which was the
basis of its selection as the preferred bidder as announced in February 2010,”
Hammond said in a statement. “In the circumstances it is not appropriate for us
to proceed with the programme.”
No further explanation
for the delay was provided by the government or preferred supplier Soteria.
The Department for Transport will make a
further announcement on the process, but would not confirm when.
Soteria had been named
preferred bidder for the search and rescue PFI contract, valued at around £6 billion.
The consortium comprises helicopter service supplier CHC, manufacturer Sikorsky, training provider ThalesUK and RBS,
a PFI equity investor.
The PFI deal will
replace Sea King helicopters being used by the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm to
perform search and rescue off the British coast.
programme was halted before in June as the new coalition government
reconsidered decisions made by the previous Labour administration. A source
close to Soteria said the firm was frustrated with the number of delays to the