UK slips military flying training decision until 2015

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The UK Ministry of Defence is expected to place a contract for the remainder of its Military Flying Training System (MFTS) programme during 2015, with industry partner Ascent Flight Training having issued a request for proposals for the requirement.

"The new capability will deliver assets for use in elementary, basic, multi-engine and fixed-wing rear crew training for the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps," Ascent said in a notification published on 10 December. The MoD's partner for the MFTS programme adds that it "will manage the procurement process to contract a holistic training service, including the new aircraft, in 2015".

Potential bidders have been given up to 90 days to respond to the document, with Ascent seeking "an output-based specification that includes supplying aircraft, aircraft-related infrastructure and support to 2030 and beyond."

 

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The MFTS programme has yet to replace the RAF's Tucano T1 trainers

In a statement, Ascent managing director Jim Keeler says: "We are seeking to increase the use of synthetic training technology whilst continuing to train key tasks via live flying to ensure best value for money."

A 50:50 joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock International, Ascent has already overseen the introduction of 28 BAE Systems Hawk T2 advanced jet trainers. These are operated by the RAF's 4 Sqn from the service's Valley base on Anglesey.

The MoD's previous schedule for MFTS was to have seen a preferred bidder announced for the remainder of its fixed-wing training needs by around mid-2012. Contenders have so far included a BAE-led team also including Babcock, Gama Aviation and Pilatus; Elbit Systems; and a Team C3 consortium between Cobham Aviation Services, CAE UK and Cassidian Air Systems.

Trainer aircraft types currently used by the UK armed forces include the Grob G115 Tutor, Shorts Tucano T1 and Hawker Beechcraft King Air 200/350ER.