Helicopter search and rescue taken over by US company

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.