UK to retain VT in new University Air Squadron deal

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The UK Ministry of Defence has selected VT Aerospace to deliver University Air Squadron flying services until 2019, with its £160 million ($298 million) deal to potentially also to transform the Royal Air Force's existing elementary flying training activities.

The UAS success represents repeat business for VT, which currently uses 94 Grob G115E Tutors (below) to provide services totalling around 10,000 flight hours per year, plus 20,000h of air experience flights for cadets. VT's current 10-year contract will conclude next April, and the company says it expects to sign the new deal "in the next few weeks".

 
© Dragon Lady/AirSpace

VT was named preferred bidder for the expanded UAS requirement on 22 August, with around 35,000h to be provided per year at multiple airfields around the UK. The MoD says the company retained the service after offering a lower priced bid than its lone rival, which is believed to have been Babcock Defence Services.

Final discussions prior to a contract award will also decide whether the MoD will ask VT to replace its current fleet of Babcock-supported Slingsby Fireflys (below), which deliver elementary flying training services at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire.

 
© Dragon Lady/AirSpace

One industry source suggests the Firefly could be replaced through a follow-on order for around 20 additional Grob Tutor airframes.