The UK Ministry of Defence has outlined a more than £400 million ($637 million) requirement for a synthetic training service to support operations with its future fleet of Airbus Military A400M transports.

Expected to be contracted under a public-private partnership funding arrangement, the A400M training service deal should run until at least March 2030, according to details released by the UK’s Defence Equipment & Support organisation.

“The UK is seeking the provision of an A400M synthetic training service for all military personnel who will operate, maintain and support the aircraft,” it says in a 3 August notification. This will include pilots, loadmasters and maintainers, plus “aerial despatch and aero-medical personnel, paratroopers and miscellaneous support staff.”

New training premises will be constructed at the Royal Air Force’s main operating base for the A400M at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as a result of the programme.

 A400M Brize - Andrew Linnett Crown Copyright
© Andrew Linnett/Crown Copyright
The A400M made its first visit to RAF Brize Norton last month

The MoD in mid-July issued an invitation to negotiate to Airbus Military and its selected UK partner, Thales Training and Simulation for the proposed deal. An expression of interest is required by 29 October, with DE&S due to sign a contract in October 2011.

The UK had been due to acquire 25 A400Ms under the European programme’s May 2003 launch contract, but earlier this year signalled its intention to reduce the RAF’s eventual fleet “to at least 22”. The service should receive its first example of the delayed transport in 2014, with the type currently expected to enter operational use in 2015.

France and the UK are pursuing a possible joint support model for their combined fleets of the 37t-capacity airlifter. The former is committed to buying 50 A400Ms, and will be the first nation to field the type.