BAE teams with CAE, Beechcraft for Australian training system bid

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BAE Systems has announced that it will team with CAE and Beechcraft to bid for Australia's military pilot training system project.

BAE will lead the consortium, with CAE to provide training, simulation and support services. Beechcraft would provide its T-6C Texan II as the primary trainer aircraft, on a non-exclusive basis.

John Quaife, general manager aviation solutions for BAE Systems Australia, says that Beechcraft and BAE already work together to deliver pilot training to the US Navy. CAE was also selected by BAE to provide three simulators for the Royal Australian Air Force's Hawk lead-in fighter trainer programme, he notes.

Since 1992, BAE has operated the Australian Defence Force's Basic Flight Training School (BFTS) at Tamworth, which provides ab intio training and pilot screening for all ADF pilots using a fleet of Pacific Aerospace CT-4B piston trainers.

"These experiences and our combined track record in military flight training, complex project management and mission systems sustainment mean we can offer the Commonwealth a low risk, value for money solution to train the world's best military aviators at a location of its choosing," says Quaife.

The consortium is the first to announce its teaming arrangements in response to the Australian Department of Defence's Air 5428 project, which seeks to provide a complete pilot training system for all undergraduate pilots across the RAAF, Royal Australian Navy and Australian army.

Currently, pilots who graduate from BFTS are then posted to the RAAF's No 2 Flight Training School at RAAF Pearce in Western Australia for advanced training on the Pilatus PC-9/A, after which they are posted to an operational squadron.

Under Air 5428, the respective training aircraft would be replaced by a new integrated training system run by the successful contractor. Australia would also likely acquire the same aircraft for use with the Aircraft Research and Development Unit and Forward Air Control Development Unit of the RAAF.

Lockheed Martin is expected to announce its teaming for the project soon, with industry sources indicating that it is likely to choose the Pilatus PC-21 as its main flying platform, and that it will team with Hawker Pacific for sustainment. The three companies already provide a similar training package for pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force at RAAF Pearce under the Basic Wings programme.

Boeing, Thales and Raytheon are also expected to announce partners for their respective bids soon.

The tender will close in February 2014, with selection expected by the end of June 2015. Initial operating capability has been targeted for 2015-17.