The UK defence ministry has selected the Ascent Consortium, comprising Lockheed Martin UK and defence contractor VT, as the preferred bidder for the country's 25-year combined services Military Flying Training System (MFTS), the first step in a £10 billion ($18.9 billion) programme to overhaul the UK's military flight training..

Ascent is offering a Lockheed training management information system currently used for training around 20,000 aircrew in the USA, including 16,000 on the Lockheed C-130 transport at nine sites.

In the UK Ascent will work with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the life of the programme to design, deliver and manage ground and flying training at multiple locations across the UK. MFTS will cover the training needs of the entire fleet for the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army including fast-jet pilots, weapons systems operators, rotary and multi-engine pilots, as well as the rear crew disciplines. 

UK defence minister Lord Drayson says: "The UK MFTS project will exploit the strengths of MoD and industry to deliver flying training that will ensure our aircrew retain their leading-edge operational skills.  We look forward to taking forward contract negotiations with the Ascent consortium."

“With Ascent as the MoD’s training system partner, UK air crews will be trained faster, more efficiently and to the most exacting of standards. By reducing the time in training, we will increase the time their valuable skills are available, while simultaneously reducing costs,” says VT chief executive, Paul Lester.

Lockheed Martin UK chief executive Ian Stopps added: “Ascent’s experience and approach to partnering will continue to pay dividends throughout the life of this programme and has made us exceptionally aware of the important role this team has in the defence of the UK.”

Contract award will be subject to the successful conclusion of negotiations.  Initial services are scheduled to start in April next year.