An American firm has reportedly won the helicopter search and rescue contract, taking over operations from the RAF and Royal Navy for the first time in 70 years.
Texas-based Bristow Group will take over the running of the service from 2015 until 2026, winning an estimated £3 billion on the contract.
The government said the move would lead to faster response times.
Bristow is understood to be replacing the existing helicopters with more efficient Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland 189s.
Plans to privatise search and rescue helicopters were originally laid out by labour in 2006.