The UK Ministry of Defence is developing a complex set of aggressor-type training requirements for all three of its armed services, with the ambition of developing a "Red Air" capability via its Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme.
While it will be structured under multiple contracts, ASDOT will be fulfilled by a single service provider, as the flying element of the broader Defence Operational Training Capabilities (DOT-C) requirement.
“The priority right now is to find a service provider by January 2020. That is when the current electronic warfare-type southern coast fleet training activity will end.” Richard Murray, head of the UK Military Flying Training System programme at the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation tells FlightGlobal.
The current service is provided by Cobham Aviation with its Dassault Falcon 20s and Fleet Air Arm-operated BAE Systems Hawk T1s flown by 736 NAS from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall and RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset. The unit’s Hawks will be retired in 2020.
A phased plan of introducing other capabilities will continue throughout the next decade, with the Royal Air Force's 100 Sqn and its Hawk T1s to give up their current aggressor training role in 2027.
“We need to make sure it is replaced by a very open architecture [way of working], to simulate, network and integrate the training capabilities around us," Murray says of the existing model.
The concept phase was co-run by DE&S and the Nightworx organisation for the initial industry engagement activity, when more than 10 companies showed interest. The scope of the current work on ASDOT has not been disclosed, but a competition will be launched during 2017, in order to meet the deadlines set by the armed services.
During the Farnborough air show, Qinetiq and Thales announced an agreement with Textron AirLand to offer the latter's Scorpion jet to meet part of the ASDOT programme requirements.