The new AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter is due to arrive soon. Photo: MCA

The new AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter is due to arrive soon. Photo: MCA

A new search and rescue helicopter will go into service on the south coast in spring.

The £20m AgustaWestland AW189 is one of two that will be based at the Coastguard base at Lee-on-Solent.

The aircraft will be operated by Bristow on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and will fly in the red-and-white colours of the government agency.

The helicopters are being delivered as part of the 10-year contract that saw the end of the military search and rescue service previously operated by the RAF and Royal Navy, with responsibilities transferred to the Bristow crews.

The first AW189 is expected to be delivered soon to Lee-on-Solent, after which training missions will begin with a view to the new helicopters going into operational service in April.

In the meantime, AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters will continue to provide search and rescue cover from the Hampshire base, including support of volunteer search and rescue teams and Coastguard rescue teams in the area.

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