VT will provide continued support to the UK Royal Air Force's Shorts Tucano T1 trainers until at least April 2014 under a contract extension worth £35 million ($54.1 million).

With options to extend the deal by a further two years, the Tucano in-service support contract "will guarantee the availability of the fleet of over 50 aircraft", says VT. These should provide between 12,000 and 14,500 flight hours a year under the arrangement, it adds.

Based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Lincolnshire, the Tucano fleet has been in use since first deliveries were made in 1986. Flightglobal's MiliCAS database lists the service as having received 130 of the turboprop-powered type by 1992.

Tucano T1 RAF - CH FINT 
© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

VT already delivers "engineering support and maintenance, flightline services and logistics" in support of the T1 fleet.

The UK Defence Equipment & Support organisation expects a replacement for the Tucano in 2015 as part of its tri-service Military Flying Training System programme.

VT is a member of the Ascent Flight Training consortium, which acts as the Ministry of Defence's training system partner for the deal, teamed with Lockheed Martin UK.

Possible replacements for the Tucano in RAF service include the Alenia Aermacchi M-311 and the Pilatus PC-21.

Source: Flight International