Two new AgustaWestland AB139 helicopters are expected to take over search and rescue duties at Lee-on-the-Solent early in the new year.

Two new AgustaWestland AB139 helicopters are expected to take over search and rescue duties at Lee-on-the-Solent early in the new year. They will be the first of the type to be operated for the Coastguard, and will be nearly 40 knots faster than the Sikorsky S-61N helicopter they replace.

The AB139s will arrive at Lee-on-the-Solent airfield in January and will be based in a new, purpose-built, hangar block which includes accommodation for 24 hour operational personnel. While many people will be sad to see the withdrawal of the Sikorsky S-61N, affectionately known as ‘India Juliet’, the new helicopters with their new range of technological equipment will increase the Coastguard’s operating range and effectiveness.