Airbus Helicopters in the UK has been selected by Ascent as the Aircraft Service Provider for the UK’s Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). The contract, worth £500 million over 17 years, will see Airbus Helicopters deliver aircraft and an integrated support solution over the course of 18 months, ready to start training in April 2018. This will involve the manufacture of aircraft in addition to developing the support infrastructure and training initial crews and maintenance personnel.
Over the last 35 years, all UK military helicopter pilots have been trained on Airbus Helicopters, initially with the Gazelle and subsequently with the H125 ‘Squirrel’. From 2018 onwards, Airbus Helicopters will support Ascent’s delivery of a key capability for the UK MOD. Helicopters have played a fundamental role in virtually all operational scenarios and theatres for many years and this new capability will prepare 121 pilots and 99 rear crew per year to successfully follow their predecessors.
As part of the contract, Airbus Helicopters will supply a fleet of H135 and H145 capable of delivering the 28,000 hours per year necessary to meet the training requirement. The two types, already a favourite for military helicopter training in the US, Australia and Germany among many other partner nations, incorporate the latest technology, allowing the crews to perform the widest envelope of training from basic flying to offshore, night time operations. Furthermore, through the UKMFTS contract, the UK will be the first country to receive the newly updated H135 Helionix, Airbus Helicopters’ advanced avionics kit which increases performance and improves safety.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne said: “This is the final element in re-fashioning the UK Military Flying Training System into a state-of-the-art structure to develop suitably qualified aircrew to secure the future of air elements of our Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. Our Armed Forces will benefit from consistent, world class training across the board. It will ready them for the next stage of their careers and equip them with the skills they need to deploy on operations around the globe.”
Paul Livingston, Managing Director Ascent 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.”
Colin James, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in the UK said, “As demonstrated across the globe, our dedicated focus on customer success, coupled with the outstanding performance of our H135 and H145 aircraft, will ensure that the MOD will benefit from best-in-class training assets. Airbus Helicopters is today Britain’s leading civil helicopter company and, by leveraging our expertise in the development and support of the UK’s emergency, police and military helicopter fleets, our highly skilled British workforce will deliver an unmatched helicopter service provision for UKMFTS.”