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Three bidders to contest UK's fixed-wing training requirement

Three bidders appear set to contest the fixed-wing element of the UK's Military Flying Training System (MFTS) infrastructure requirement, with a selection decision expected to take place in late 2011 or early 2012.

BAE Systems last month announced the formation of a consortium with Babcock, Gama and Pilatus for the fixed-wing deal, which seeks to replace the UK military's current elementary, basic and multi-engine air crew training equipment for use from around 2015.

Responses to a formal request for proposals were received on 4 January from the BAE-led team, plus a group comprising Cobham, CAE and EADS's Cassidian business unit, and from Israel's Elbit Systems, says Barry Thornton, managing director of Ascent Flight Training.

Lockheed Martin/Babcock joint venture Ascent is the UK Ministry of Defence's training system partner for the MFTS programme, and will be responsible for selecting the next-generation training infrastructure under a private finance initiative model.

The fixed-wing requirement - which will replace the capabilities currently provided using Grob G115 Tutors, Shorts Tucano T1s and Hawker Siddeley Dominie T1s - is expected to value towards £1 billion ($1.5 billion) over the programme's 25-year period of activity.

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Ascent will also receive RFP responses on 14 January from companies bidding to deliver the UK armed forces' rotary-wing training needs under MFTS. Interested parties are expected to include the FB Heliservices consortium which currently runs the Defence Helicopter Flying School at Royal Air Force base Shawbury in Shropshire, plus airframers such as AgustaWestland.

Around 10 companies responded to an earlier pre-qualification questionnaire linked to the rotary-wing training service, Thornton says.

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