UKMFTS Fixed Wing Aircraft Service Provision Contract Awarded

UK Military Flying Training System  Fixed Wing (UKMFTS) Aircraft Service Provision Contract Awarded

The contract to provide Elementary, Basic and Multi-Engined training aircraft to the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) through to 2033 has been awarded.

The contract was placed by Babcock / Lockheed Martin joint venture Ascent Flight Training.

Ascent, selected as the UK MOD’s flying training partner in 2008, will deliver the instruction, infrastructure and support and has awarded the ~£500 million aircraft service provision (ASP) contract to Affinity Flying Training Services, a joint venture of Elbit and KBR.

UKMFTS FW Infographic (Credit: UK MOD)

UKMFTS FW Infographic (Credit: UK MOD)

A total of 38 aircraft of three types are involved, with operations commencing between 2018 and 2019 with a mix of civil (Ascent) and military instructors.  All feature modern glass cockpits and have been civil certified previously.

UKMFTS Elementary Flying Training (EFT) – Grob 120TP ‘Prefect’

Twenty three Grob 120TP aircraft will be used for EFT.  While made by Grob, the G120TP (discussed in this 2011 Flight International test pilot review by the late Pete Collins) is a retractable landing gear turboprop trainer that is substantially more advanced that the current Grob 115E Tutor.  We discussed the certification of the glass cockpit G120TP in 2014. They are to be designated the Prefect TMk1 in UK military service.  They will carry military serials ZM300 to ZM322.  The first will be Manufacturer’s Serial Number (MSN) 11099.

Grob 120TP (Credit: Andy Evans)

Grob 120TP (Credit: Andy Evans)

Grob 120TP Cockpit (Credit: Andy Evans)

Grob 120TP Cockpit (Credit: Andy Evans)

UPDATE 25 May 2016: The first two of six G120TPs have been delivered to CAE for their contract to train US Army Beechcraft C-12 pilots at Dothan Regional Airport, Alabama.  One reason for their selection is they can conduct upset prevention training (the former contract, held by Flight Safety Inc, used a mix of non-aerobatic Cessna 182s supplemented by aerobatic Zlin 242L Gurus) rior to the transition to glass-cockpit C-12s.

UPDATE 28 June 2016: See also this article by Dave Unwin: Flight Test: Grob G120TP – The twenty first century trainer

UPDATE 19 July 2016: It is reported that the Grob production line is producing 36 G120TPs per annum, with an order backlog to the end of 2018.  However, Grob say the tooling is in place to double the rate if extra staff are recruited.  The first two examples for UKMFTS are in production and due for delivery in September/October 2016.

UPDATE 19 September 2016: Grob / Affinity release photos of G120TPs in UK military colours:

UPDATE 17 November 2016: The first Prefects, now on the UK civil register, but later to move to the military register have arrived at RAF Cranwell.

First Grob 120TP Prefects Arrive at RAF Cranwell (Credit: RAF Cranwell Ops)

First Grob 120TP Prefects Arrive at RAF Cranwell (Credit: RAF Cranwell Ops)

UPDATE 18 November 2016: “We are delighted to have delivered these aircraft only 9 months after contract award said Andrew Barrie, Head of KBR’s UK Government Services business (part owner of Affinity). “We are proud to be a part of this significant project and look forward to seeing more aircraft coming on stream next year.”

Grob 120TP G-MFTS (Credit: Jamie Hunter via KBR)

Grob 120TP G-MFTS (Credit: Jamie Hunter via KBR)

G-MFTS and G-MEFT went on to the UK civil register on 10 November 2016.

UPDATE 7 March 2017: Having accepted a 3rd Grob 120TP Prefect in March, the 4th and 5th were delivered to Affinity at RAF Cranwell today.

Fourth and Firth Grob 120TPs delivered (Credit: Affinity)

Fourth and Firth Grob 120TPs delivered (Credit: Affinity)

UPDATE 29 June 2017: Seven Grob 120TP Prefects have now been delivered according to Ascent.

UPDATE 17 July 2017: The Grob 120TP Prefect T Mk 1 has received is military Release to Service (RTS).

UPDATE 1 August 2017: At 10:18 the first training flight with a UKMFTS G120TP, ZM300, took place at RAF Barkston Heath in Lincolnshire, piloted by Squadron Leader Balshaw of the Central Flying School RAF and Ascent’s Chief Pilot Nigel Scopes.

UPDATE 19 April 2018: The first student training has commenced.

UPDATE 26 September 2018: Ascent announced on their LinkedIn page:

The first student pilots graduated from Elementary Flying Training (EFT) on 23 Aug 18 marking another momentous achievement for No 3 vFlying Training School (3FTS) and the new Flying Training System under UKMFTS. This followed several other exciting firsts in recent months; the opening of new training facilities at Cranwell and Barkston Heath in January, in April the first student pilots took to the skies and the first student Prefect solo was flown in May

UKMFTS Basic Flying Training (BFT) – Beechcraft T-6C Texan II

Ten Beechcraft T-6C Texan IIs (or Beechcraft 3000) will be used in the BFT role (replacing Shorts Tucanos based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse).  The T-6 is a development of the Pilatus PC-9 that won the US Navy managed Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) competition in the 1990s.  The BBC report these will be based at RAF Valley.  They will carry military serials ZM323 to ZM332.

Beechcraft T-6C Texan II (Credit: Andy Evans)

Beechcraft T-6C Texan II (Credit: Andy Evans)

T-6C Cockpit (Credit: Andy Evans)

T-6C Cockpit (Credit: Andy Evans)

UPDATE 1 August 2016: TRU Simulation + Training announces they are to provide EASA standard maintenance training courseware for Affinity for the T-6C:

The courseware includes development of the following four distinct T-6C courses along with interactive training for each maintenance trade:

- Engineering Familiarization Course
- Airframe/Powerplant/General (APG) 5-Skill Level Course
- Avionics/Electrical 5-Skill Level Course
- Egress/Life Support 5-Skill Level Course.

The courseware will be developed through TRU’s state-of the-art Learning Content Management System and will include 2D and 3D graphic representations along with system simulations for a highly realistic and customizable training experience.

UPDATE 29 May 2017: The first UKMFTS T-6C Texan II flew last week in Wichita as N2824B (which will become ZM323).

First Beechcraft T-6C Texan  II In Flight in the US (Credit: Affinity)

First Beechcraft T-6C Texan II In Flight in the US (Credit: Affinity)

Iain Chalmers, Managing Director of Affinity:

The flight of our first Texan is a significant milestone in our programme, with all 3 of our new aircraft [types] now having flown, and the organisation now working up to service delivery in July of this year. We look forward to seeing all of our aircraft together for the first time at RIAT in just a few weeks, and encourage visitors to the show to come and see our stand.

First Beechcraft T-6C Texan  II After its First Flight in the US (Credit: Affinity)

First Beechcraft T-6C Texan II After its First Flight in the US (Credit: Affinity)

UPDATE 26 June 2017: Beechcraft T-6C trainer earns European approval.  EASA TCDS EASA.IM.A.636

UPDATE 16 February 2018: The first pair are delivered to RAF Valley:

First T-6C Texan IIs arrive at RAF Valley for UKMFTS (Credit: RAF Valley)

First T-6C Texan IIs arrive at RAF Valley for UKMFTS (Credit: RAF Valley)

UKMFTS Multi Engine Flying Training (MEFT) - Embraer Phenom 100

Five Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100s will be used in the MEPT role replacing Beechcraft Kingair 200s based at RAF Cranwell.  They will carry military serials ZM333 to ZM337.

Embraer Phenom 100 (Credit: Andy Evans)

Embraer Phenom 100 (Credit: Andy Evans)

Embraer Phenom 100 (Credit: Andy Evans)

Embraer Phenom 100 (Credit: Andy Evans)

UPDATE 11 April 2016: CAE has been awarded the Phenom simulator contract.  CAE will provide a Phenom 100 full-flight simulator (FFS), a Phenom 100 flight training device (FTD) and four Garmin 1000 part-task trainers.  All training devices will be delivered in 2017 to RAF Cranwell.

UPDATE 14 June 2016: The Etihad Flight College introduces its first Phenom 100E:

…at Al Ain International (AAN), where the Etihad Airways subsidiary is based. The training program was established to train ab-initio pilots for the airline’s rapidly expanding fleet. A second Phenom 100E is scheduled to arrive at the flight college’s base later this month. Two additional jets will be delivered in early 2017.

UPDATE 21 February 2017: The first Phenom 100 has been completed.

First Phenom 100 for UKMFTS (Credit: Affinity)

First Phenom 100 for UKMFTS (Credit: Affinity)

UPDATE 4 July 2017: Embraer delivers first Phenom 100 for UKMFTS


MOD Comment on Contract Award

Air Marshal Sir Baz North, the Senior Responsible Owner for UKMFTS, said:

The UK MFTS Fixed Wing Contract provides enhanced synthetic and live flying training for the UK’s military aircrew out to 2033. The service employs modern, adaptable and sustainable systems which exploit the advantages of the simulated environment to prepare our aircrew to meet the challenges of future combat operations.

Air Vice-Marshal Sue Gray, Director of Combat Air at the MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support said:

This contract will replace legacy fleets of aircraft with new, modern platforms that better replicate the aircraft used by front line operational squadrons.

Up-to-date training methods will also be developed to ensure that students are able to progress to operational training more efficiently and provide value for money.

UPDATE 5 February 2016: Defence News reports that Iain Chalmers, Affinity’s MD confirms aircraft numbers could rise subject to future customer requirements:

We have commercial arrangements in place with our suppliers in the event that the needs of our clients should change in the coming years.

UPDATE 31 July 2017:  Air Marshal Sean Rey­nolds has a target “to reduce the time taken to prepare a new fighter pilot from five to 3.5 years, and cut its multi-engine crew training period by 30%, from two years currently”.

Affinity ready to deliver on UK training deal say Flight International.


Existing UKMFTS Training ‘Pipelines’

Ascent has two ‘pipelines’ operational: Advanced Jet Training (AJT) and Rear Crew (RC).

UKMFTS Advanced Jet Training (AJT)

Ascent is  delivering AJT using BAE Systems Hawk TMk2 aircraft with IV Squadron at RAF Valley.

Hawk T2 (Credit: Flt Lt Paul Heasman via Daily Post)

UKMFTS Rear Crew (RC)

RC training is delivered using Grob Tutors at RAF Barkston Heath, followed by training on 4 specially equipped Beechcraft King Air 350ER Avenger TMk1s with 750NAS at RNAS Culdrose.

These aircraft are maintained by Cobham under contract to Ascent.  UPDATE 28 June 2016: Cobham to provide UKMFTS Contract Extension worth £16M  This contract extension, which will commence in July 2016 and will run for a further 4 years, with the option of a further one year extension.

Avenger T1s at Culdrose (Credit: Royal Navy)

Avenger T1 Observer Training Station (Credit: Royal Navy)

UKMFTS Rotary Wing Pipeline

Ascent are still to award the Rotary Wing ASP contract.

UPDATE 5 February 2016Defence News reports a decision on a winning RW ASP between Airbus Helicopters and Cobham Helicopter Services (formerly FBH)  is “expected in the next two months or so”.  They go on:

The MoD has set a target date of April 2018 for what is describes as initial course capability with the new helicopters .

Neither of the shortlisted bidders have publicly declared what platform types will be offered to Ascent but media reports here have previously said Airbus is offering the EC145 and EC135 and rival Cobham is offering the Finmeccanica Helicopter Division’s AW109 and AW139.

UPDATE 23 May 2016: We report on the award of the RW contract to Airbus Helicopters with 29 H135s and three larger H145s.

UPDATE 9 September 2016: UK military flying training hits news highs

Aerossurance has extensive civil and military air safety, regulation, airworthiness, aircraft certification, evaluation and contracting experience (including with various FW & RW MRCOA platforms).  For aviation advice you can trust, contact us at: enquiries@aerossurance.com