As the planned drawdown of armed forces from Afghanistan continues, the U.K.'s military is considering how the nation's tri-service helicopter force will be supported once operations there end.
“We haven't yet seen the effects of the Afghan drawdown. Of course, we are very interested to see how this goes,” says Trevor Pritchard, development director at Vector Aerospace. A subsidiary of EADS, Vector is the leading “depth support” contractor for much of the U.K.'s helicopter fleet, including the Sea King, Lynx and Chinook, although the Sea King fleet will be retired in 2014. The services used to have two separate structures—a forward, day-to-day support element covering consumable item replacement and similar simple tasks, and “depth” for complex repair and overhaul. Now, they have established “pseudo-depth” facilities forward: first at Basra air base in Iraq, and then at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.