Defence Procurement Agency will offer funds to four consortia bidding for $22 billion deal by middle of this year

The UK Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) is close to issuing concept system design contracts to the four consortia bidding for the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) requirement, which is valued at more than £12.5 billion ($22.4 billion).

The awards, worth a combined £6 million, will be issued by mid-year, following an agency decision on its preferred procurement strategy for the tri-service aircrew training project. This is likely to support plans for a largely private finance initiative/public-private partnership framework, say sources close to the project.

The DPA expects to issue the consortia with invitations to negotiate for the requirement from late October, and to select a training systems integrator for the capability from March 2005. The agency expects to receive main gate approval to proceed with the project and complete a contract signature in February 2006.

Teams contesting the requirement comprise BAE Systems, Bombardier and Serco; Boeing and Thales; Kellogg Brown & Root and EG&G/Lear Siegler (Team Vector); and Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce and VT Group (Ascent). The successful bidder will deliver initial training services to the UK armed forces from 2007, with full operational capability set for 2012.

"The current system can't meet our training requirements," Ian Mawdsley from the DPA's UKMFTS Integrated Project Team told IQPC's Military Flight Training conference in London last month. The UK will spend £2-3 billion on early capabilities over the next five years, he says.

"We must fundamentally change the way we train," says Dick Eastment, UKMFTS sales and training manager for BAE Systems. "We are training for network-enabled capability and the information battlefield, and this requires very different skills."

Contractor concerns over the deal, which could have a life of 25 years, include the risk of training fluctuations caused by major conflicts such as last year's Iraq campaign, and uncertainties over the level of the UK's future defence spending. The UK has also yet to define its required mix of fast-jet and turboprop crews and the balance of real, versus synthetic, training to be delivered.

The introduction of the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will also see more single-seat aircraft deployed, placing increased demand on skills of systems management and situational awareness. "Few people know how the Typhoon will fight in 10 years time," says Eastment.

The Ministry of Defence will be responsible for evaluating students at the UK's Central Flying School, and for controlling input numbers and output standards through the operational UKMFTS capability. The training systems integrator will be responsible for managing training delivery, second-tier suppliers and providing civilian instructors.

BAE was last year selected on a non-competitive basis to supply the advanced jet trainer (AJT) for UKMFTS through the delivery of up to 44 Hawk 128s from 2008. A contract agreement on the AJT deal is expected later this year, with the DPA to compete support and training packages for the aircraft.


Source: Flight International