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Leonardo enters ASDOT training battle for UK

Leonardo has joined forces with Discovery Air Defence Services and Inzpire in pursuit of a major UK aggressor aircraft requirement, making it the latest company to target the air support to defence operational training (ASDOT) opportunity.

Announced at the DSEI exhibition in London on 12 September, the expanded teaming arrangement will see the trio of companies "combine their capabilities, expertise and experience in live air aggressor training, air warfare training, electronic warfare and airborne systems integration".

"We believe the team will provide the optimum solution," says Leonardo MW chief executive Norman Bone. Due to the early status of the programme – a full competition for ASDOT is likely to start later this year – the companies have not identified potential aircraft candidates, but say they intend to propose "the most operationally relevant fleet and technical solutions". However, possible types could include Leonardo's Aermacchi M-346, the Lockheed Martin F-16 or Saab's newly unveiled Gripen Aggressor.

Other companies eyeing the ASDOT requirement – part of which will replace existing training arrangements currently contracted to expire in January 2020 – include Draken International, which earlier this year signed a teaming agreement with Cobham. The programme is required to support the readiness of the Royal Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoons and incoming Lockheed F-35s, to be operated by the service and the Royal Navy.