UK Military Flying Training System Rotary Wing Aircraft Service Provision Contract Awarded
In the second major UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) contract award this year, Airbus Helicopters has won the contract to provide training helicopters for the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps until 2033. Airbus will supply and maintain 29 H135s (to be given the UK military name Juno) and three larger H145s (to be given the name Jupiter). These will deliver up to 28,000 flying hours per annum.
The £500mn Rotary Wing (RW) Aircraft Service Provision (ASP) contract was placed by Babcock / Lockheed Martin joint venture Ascent Flight Training. Ascent, selected as the UK MOD’s flying training partner in 2008, were themselves awarded a £1.1 billion contract by UK MOD as prime contractor, which includes provision of infrastructure, simulators, training design and instructors, as well as sub-contracting the aircraft provision. Initial Course Capability is expected in Quarter 2 2018 with a mix of civil (Ascent) and military instructors. Ascent will deliver basic and advanced rotary wing training at RAF Shawbury and Army Air Corps Middle Wallop, with the H135 Juno. Pilots selected for training in mountain and maritime helicopter operations will receive instruction at RAF Valley on the H145 Jupiter. Fewer H145s are needed than the current B412 fleet as primary UK SAR operations are now contractorised under an HM Coastguard contract. Both the H135 and H145 are twin-engined helicopter types. Apart from a few Army Gazelles their are no single engine helicopters in front line UK military service. UPDATE 8 December 2016: Full service training delivery is now due to begin on 1 April 2018, an auspicious date given it is the 100th Anniversary of the foundation of the RAF.
UKMFTS H135 Juno
Turbomeca Arrius 2B2+ turboshafts have been selected to power the H135 Junos rather than the rival Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206Bs. UPDATE 22 June 2016: Craig Hoyle reports that the first H135 Juno for UKMFTS (MSN 2001, D-HECZ) was just about to conduct its first ground run: UK’s first military H135 ready for ground test The first flight was due in mid July 2016. The rapid progress was due to Airbus Helicopters committing to build prior to contract. One aircraft will be shipped to Airbus UK in Oxford for mission modifications which will include a cargo hook and a defensive aids suite emulator. UPDATE 29 July 2016: The first UKMFTS H135 has flown.
UPDATE 8 December 2016: The first H135 Juno, to be G-CJIW (before being military registered), has arrived in the UK (though it is not currently shown on the CAA registration database and was delivered as D-HECV).
UKMFTS H145 Jupiter
Turbomeca is the sole engine supplier on the H145 Jupiter with the Arriel 2E. The H145 Jupiters will have emergency flotation systems and hoists.
UPDATE 21 November 2016: The first H145 Jupiter, G-CJIV (formerly D-HADT), was put on the UK civil register on 11 November 2016 and has been delivered to the Airbus Helicopters UK site at Oxford for mission equipment fitment prior to delivery in Q1 2017.
UPDATE 3 April 2017: One H145 Jupiter and two H135 Junos have been delivered to RAF Shawbury.
UPDATE 5 April 2017: Two more of each type are in modification at Airbus UK in Oxford.
Contract Award Comment
Paul Livingston, Managing Director of Ascent Flight training said:
We were left in no doubt that Airbus Helicopters competitive offer was the best choice for the rotary wing element of UKMFTS. I have high expectations of Airbus Helicopters as it is my priority to ensure that this selection provides the UK’s future military aircrew and our instructors the best training solution available.
Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus Helicopters said:
I welcome Ascent’s decision to entrust the provision of aircraft and full service support to Airbus Helicopters. This builds on our growing strategic relationship with the UK and the British Government, to whom I express my personal thanks, and strengthens the position of the H135 and H145 family of aircraft as the platforms of choice for military flight training worldwide.
Neither of the shortlisted bidders have publicly declared what platform types will be offered to Ascent but media reports here have previously said…Cobham is offering the Finmeccanica Helicopter Division’s AW109 and AW139.
FB Heliservices has been delivering the existing Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) service since 1997 with Military Registered Civil Owned Aircraft (MRCOA), namely AS350BBs Squirrel HT1s and Bell 412 Griffin HT1s. In July 2013 Cobham plc acquired 100% ownership of FBH (buying out former partners Bristow Group). The loss of the contract will hit their Helicopter Services unit hard.
Certification and Release to Service
UPDATE 19 May 2017: The RAF reports that the Juno and Jupiter have now received their Release to Service (RTS), from the RAF Release to Service Authority (RTSA), which is necessary to allow service operation of the types. In a statement from RAF Shawbury:
The first military registered helicopters in the UK Military Flying Training System (MFTS) Project , a H135 Juno HT1 and a H145 Jupiter HT1 were flown in to RAF Shawbury on Thursday 18 May 17.
After months of joint Ascent, Airbus and Project Team co-operation, operating on the Civil Register, the H135 Juno HT1 and H145 Jupiter HT1 helicopters have been awarded their Military Release to Service (RTS).
This is only one year from contract signature, with trained aircrew and aircraft already operating at RAF Shawbury ahead of the planned April 2018 start of training delivery to military aircrew students.
Group Captain R S Norris, the Station Commander at RAF Shawbury said:
The next 12 months promises to be an exciting period for the project as it continues to meet the deadlines set by the MoD for the introduction of the rotary wing component of the UK MFTS. Once student training commences in earnest on 1 April, 2018, the benefit of introducing these latest generation aircraft to ease student transition into frontline operations, flying Apache, Chinook, Merlin, Puma 2 and Wildcat will become evident.
UPDATE 2 October 2018: The last of the aircraft have been delivered.
UPDATE 4 December 2018: The UKMFTS RW fleet has now flown 10,000 flying hours.
UPDATE 20 May 2019: First rear crew graduate.
Rotary Wing Synthetics: Simulators and Training Devices
UPDATE 8 July 2016: CAE has been awarded the contract to supply 7 flight training devices and a command-and-tactics trainer for the UKMFTS RW pipeline at RAF Shawbury. These will be delivered in 2018. CAE say:
The FTDs developed by CAE will be equivalent to Level 4/5 flight simulation training devices (FSTDs) according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. In addition, the Level 4/5 FTDs can be networked for teaching multi-ship tactical formations. The CAE-developed Combat & Tactics Trainer will be a suite of four Level 1/2 FTDs that can be networked for teaching and practicing formation flying. All the CAE-built training devices will include the CAE Medallion-6000 image generator and databases built to the Common Database (CDB) standard, which enables distributed, interoperable mission training.
Rotary Wing Infrastructure
A £9.5 million contract has been awarded as part of the project to build a state-of-the-art training centre at RAF Shawbury.
UPDATE 28 February 2020: Chief of the Air Staff formally names state-of-the-art training facility at RAF Shawbury the Duke of Cambridge Building.
The Other UKMFTS Training ‘Pipelines’
The award means all core training elements within UKMFTS, which covers training for rotary wing, fixed wing, fast jet and rear crew, are now under contract with a total value of £2.8 billion.
Ascent has two ‘pipelines’ operational, Advanced Jet Training (AJT) and Rear Crew (RC), with a third, Fixed Wing (FW), contracted earlier this year.
Advanced Jet Training (AJT)
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.
Fixed Wing (FW)
In February 2016 we covered the award of this contract. The ~£500 million FW aircraft service provision (ASP) contract to Affinity Flying Training Services, a joint venture of Elbit and KBR. Twenty three Grob 120TP aircraft will be used for Elementary Flying Training (EFT).
UPDATE 9 September 2016: UK military flying training hits news highs