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. 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.”
The Sikorsky S-92 is an American twin-engine medium-lift helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the civil and military helicopter markets. The S-92 was developed from the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter and has similar parts such as flight control and rotor systems. The Sikorsky S-92 helicopter is the most advanced aircraft in Sikorsky’s civil product line, certified to the most stringent safety requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). With seating for 19 passengers, the S-92 has a maximum takeoff weight of 26,500 lb/12,020 kg. Bristow also has four S92s with the Gross Weight Expansion (GWE) applied which increases the maximum takeoff weight to 27,700 lb/12,565 kg. The H-92 Superhawk is a military version of the S-92 in the utility transport role, capable of carrying 22 troops. The CH-148 Cyclone is a shipboard maritime helicopter variant developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force to support naval operations of the Royal Canadian Navy. The Sikorsky VH-92 is a variant under development to replace the United States Marine Corps’ Marine One U.S. Presidential transport fleet.