BAE Systems is poised to commence training UK Royal Air Force pilots from the first two units due to operate the Eurofighter. As with the other partner nations' air forces, the RAF will conduct its first 18 months of Eurofighter operations from the national Eurofighter partner company.

The RAF is set to receive itsfirst Eurofighter in September/October and will begin training at BAE's Warton factory in the north of England.

BAE is to train six pilots over 18 months for the operational evaluation unit (OEU) and 10 aircrew instructors for the operational conversion unit (OCU), says Phil Jakes, BAE contract support services manager. The company will also train 190 technicians for maintaining the aircraft. Operating at Warton will give the RAF access to flight test personnel and BAE engineers, who have been operating the Eurofighter for several years.

BAE is due to provide 1,300h flying using 13 aircraft, one of which will be dedicated to the service school for use by the technicians, says Jakes. At the end of the 18 months the OCU will move to RAF Coningsby in eastern England.

Jakes says that when all aircraft are delivered it is planned to fly two four-ship OEU missions daily and have four Eurofighters in use for service instructor pilot training to provide flying instructors for the OCU. Ahead of the delivery of full flight simulators in 2004, RAF aircrew will use BAE engineering devices for training.

The OEU's task is to test theaircraft and develop tactics forits operational use. Its target at Warton, with BAE, is to meet several milestones, including a two-week deployment away from the base, which will involve livemissile firings.

Once maintenance personnel have completed ground school they will work on the Eurofighters, gaining type experience.

Initially, BAE was to train 248 ground staff, but this has been reduced as the RAF will cut its five maintenance trades to three on future aircraft, beginning with the Eurofighter. According to Jakes, ground courses will, however, be slightly longer as a result.

The training preparations follow the initial flight of BAE's IPA1 (instrumented production aircraft) from Warton on 16 April. Theaircraft was flown by Eurofighter's project pilot Keith Hartley for 26min.

Source: Flight International