By Staff Writer | April 1, 2009
PUBLIC | POLICE
The U.K. Home Office (the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, counter-terrorism and police) is buying six Eurocopter EC135P2s for six police departments. This marks the first time that such helicopters have ever been purchased through "a common procurement," said Markus Steinke, managing director of Eurocopter U.K. "In the past, each department would normally buy one helicopter each." By purchasing six identical EC135P2 helicopters at one time, the U.K. Home Office achieved "excellent interoperability at a substantial savings," Home Office spokesperson Philip Skelton said.
The Home Office purchase was not a slam-dunk for Eurocopter, which had to compete for the contract. In fact, "in the light, twin-engine helicopter class, the EC135, MD902 Explorer and AW109 helicopters met qualifying technical and commercial requirements," Skelton said.
The Home Office decided which helicopter to purchase by forming a "Collaborative Purchase Group, led by Thames Valley Police," Skelton explained. The Group ran a separate mini competition, as required by EU law, to reflect their particular circumstances. From the analysis of responses to the mini competition, the group chose the EC135.
The six new EC135s will be assigned to police air support units in Suffolk, Cheshire, North Wales, Cleveland, Midlands and Chilterns. However, they will also fly on behalf of neighboring police forces in the U.K. The purchase is being underwritten by £5 million (approximately $7 million USD) provided by the U.K. government.