The UK's operational introduction of the Grob Aircraft G120TP elementary trainer has moved a step closer, after the Affinity Flying Training Services joint venture secured military release to service approval for the type.

Attained on 11 July, the approval "marks the start of the service provision by Affinity to the UK Military Flying Training System [MFTS] programme", says Iain Chalmers, managing director of the Elbit Systems/KBR joint venture company.

G120TP RIAT - Craig Hoyle FlightGlobal

Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

The Rolls-Royce M250-engined G120TP has a maximum speed of 235kt (435km/h); 50kt faster than the G115E Tutor T1 that the German-built type will replace in UK service. Also featuring digital cockpit displays and capable of manoeuvres from +6/-4g, the "Prefect" will be operated from the Royal Air Force's Barkston Heath and Cranwell air bases in Lincolnshire.

A total of 23 G120TPs are being procured for the UK, with roughly half of the fleet now in the country. The aircraft are currently being used to support instructor and ground crew training, with a first intake of ab initio students scheduled to begin flying the type in January 2018.

Responsible for providing new elementary, basic and multi-engine crew trainers to the UK armed forces via the MFTS programme, Affinity is under contract to supply a total of 38 fixed-wing aircraft, also including 10 Beechcraft T-6Cs and five Embraer Phenom 100s.

All three of the new models were on static display at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire from 14-16 July.