Ascent Flight Training, the Lockheed Martin-Babcock joint venture running the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) programme, has received three bids for the rotary-wing training element of MFTS. Revealing the details on November 19, Ascent said that Airbus Helicopters, Cobham and Elbit are the three companies that responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP). Ascent is now working with all three and assessing their offers prior to selecting a preferred solution next year.
The RFP had been issued to six companies, but the identities of the three who declined to bid are not known. Main Gate approval for this element of UKMFTS is expected in early 2016, followed shortly afterwards by contract award and initial training of ab-initio students from April 1, 2018.
The type or number of helicopters required was not specified in the RFP, with bidders being left to offer what they consider is required for the number of training hours needed for the syllabus. None of the bidders have revealed publicly what they are offering, but unconfirmed reports suggest that Airbus Helicopters has proposed the EC135 and EC145, while Cobham is said to be planning to use an AgustaWestland type, possibly the AW109 Trekker, and Elbit is said to be using Bell helicopters, probably the Bell 407.
The programme will provide training for around 200 pilots and 70 rear crew members per year for the Army Air Corps, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force. It will replace the out-sourced Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS), which uses Griffin and Squirrel helicopters, baed at RAF Shawbury, Shropshire, and RAF VAlley, Anglesey. Alan Warnes