Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, on [Monday 19th February] highlighted the suitability of Standard Aero Fleetlands for rotary wing programmes.

Speaking at Defence Oral Questions in the Chamber of the House of Commons, Caroline highlighted the 65-year history of military helicopter maintenance at Fleetlands Heliport.

Established in 1940 to maintain fixed-wing aircraft from aircraft carriers in Portsmouth Harbour, by the turn of the millennium Fleetlands’ seven helipads were maintaining all helicopters in the Armed Forces. Today the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) company Standard Aero maintains the UK Chinook, Lynx and Sea King fleets at the Gosport site.

As part of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement, Standard Aero has teamed with Lockheed Martin UK to bid for its Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk to replace the UK’s mixed medium helicopter fleet.

If the bid is successful the contract will mean upwards of 175 new, highly-skilled jobs in the Gosport area, a potential 45-year pipeline of work, and would make StandardAero in Gosport the home of the Black Hawk in the UK.

The Rotary Wing Enterprise and New Medium Helicopter Programmes are initiatives being driven by the British military to improve aircraft availability.

 Speaking in the Chamber, Caroline asked the Minister for Defence Procurement: Fleetlands in Gosport has been the home of military helicopter maintenance for more than 65 years. This highly skilled engineering work is really key to levelling up the area, providing much-needed jobs and opportunities.

Does the Minister agree that the MOD’s Rotary Wing Enterprise and New Medium Helicopter Programme would benefit greatly from these generations of expertise and skills right there in Gosport?”

Responding to Caroline’s question, Defence Minister James Cartlidge MP said: I know from my recent visit that my Right hon. Friend is a champion not only for defence in her constituency, but for defence jobs in particular. She is right about StandardAero Fleetlands, which is a valued actor in the maintenance of our rotary wing platforms.

“The Rotary Wing Enterprise is due to enter its detailed design this year. As part of that, it will consider wider social value, including the extent to which economic prosperity is supported. But as this is a specific potential procurement, I cannot comment any further.

“I also cannot comment on the role of particular companies in the new medium helicopter programme, but we hope to say more on that very soon.”

Caroline has a history of standing up for the Military sites in her constituency- last November she raised the standard of accommodation at HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan with the Minister for Defence Procurement, when she requested that he visit the two Shore Establishments’ living quarters.

The Minister visited HMS Sultan with Caroline in December, and agreed that progress at the sites needs to continue at pace.