Its about time SAR was privatised. The cost of training military to be used as SAR is just not cost effective and provides no real benefit.
Really? Justification/evidence please? Oh sorry, forgot this is STW... It is both cost effective and provides real benefit - just because they are perfroming SAR duties in a largely civilian environment does not mean the skills learnt are not transferrable to combat operations. Anyhow, you seem to have missed the history bit - the SAR force was originally created to be exactly that, Search and Rescue, because a requirement was identified for a military capability to rescue downed aircrew. Albeit of military crews, the assistance to civilian emergencies came as a real-life training benefit.
The SAR force also provides a capability beyond SAR, without going in to too much detail, such as reinforcement to Police, particularly for short notice expedient, logistic support, eg. rapid deployment of Armed Response teams (eg. Derrick Bird in Cumbria), where the Force helis cannot meet the task.
Military pilots, ground crew etc are trained for combat operations and then SAR. We want our pilots manning the military helicopters on exercises and operations. They recieve escape and evasion training, weapon training, military exrrcises to test tactics etc. All skills not actually required for SAR.
For the ground crew it makes not a jot of difference whether they are maintaining a SAR heli or a nice green one, although maintenance of the SAR fleet is largely contractorised now anyway... As for the pilots, having experience flying in both SAR helis, as a former MR team member, and in green ones on ops, as a Serviceman, I can say categorically that the skills the SAR pilots pick up transfer directly to the skills required for combat ops, especially the ability to fly low and fast in tight country, or Nap of the Earth as it's known.
Anyway, so far it's been interesting to note that Bristows have remained very tightlipped - there has been little, if any, comment on the award of the contract or, more importantly, any kind of campaign to assuage the the kinds of concerns being expressed here and elsewhere.
PS Not so sure TUPE applies to Service personnel...