Airbus Helicopters will provide a fleet of H135s and H145s helicopters to the United Kingdom’s Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) after being selected by Ascent, the UK’s Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) appointed training partner, as the preferred provider for the £500 million, 17-year contract.
Starting in April 2018, the new contract will provide 28,000 hours per year training 121 pilots and 99 rear crew annually from basic flying to offshore, night time operations and will continue to be conducted at the RAF’s Shawbury base in Shropshire and at the Army Air Corps’ Middle Wallop facility in Hampshire.
Over the next 18 months Airbus Helicopters will manufacture and deliver a fleet of 29 yellow and black painted H135s and three H145s, all to be powered by Turbomeca powerplants, and will also develop support infrastructure and train initial crews and maintenance personnel ahead of contract start.
“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,” said Minister for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne. “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.”
The new fleet of helicopters will replace the 34 AS350 Squirrel HT1s and 15 Bell Helicopter 412 HT1 Griffins currently in use by the incumbent Cobham Helicopter Services.
Airbus Helicopters said the UKMFTS contract will be the first to receive its newly updated H135 fitted with its Helionix advanced avionics.