By ANDREW CHUTER | Comments
An Army reservist undergoes underslung load training with a Squirrel helicopter. Three bidders are vying to provide the UK new training helos. ()
LONDON — Three bidders have pitched proposals to supply and support a fleet of helicopters to train British military pilots and crew, said Ascent, the company that has a 25-year deal to run all fixed- and rotary-wing training for the armed services here.
Ascent, the joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock running the UK Military Flying Training Systems (MFTS) deal, said Airbus Helicopters, Cobham and Elbit submitted proposals by the closing date on Oct. 31.
“Ascent Flight Training has received three responses from industry regarding the request for proposals issued for the role of Aircraft Service Provider within the rotary-wing element of the UKMFTS,” Managing Director Paul Livingstone said.
The Ministry of Defence project team said in September that six companies had been invited to bid. A contract is expected to be awarded shortly after the program gains final go-ahead approval, known here as main gate, in 2016.
?The new service is targeted to become operational from 2018 when the current arrangements under the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) come to an end.
Cobham has been providing training at DHFS under an outsourcing contract secured in 1996 but that is now coming to a close.
The company runs fleets of about 34 aging AS350 Squirrel and 11 Bell 412EP Griffin helicopters to train pilots and aircraft
Little is known publicly about the platforms being offered by the bidders although Airbus makes its own helicopters and Cobham declined to comment.
One industry executive here said he believed Cobham is offering AgustaWestland machines and Elbit is proposing helicopters from Bell
Elbit was recently part of a the winning bid led by KBR’s UK operation to provide the fixed-wing element of the UKMFTS program.
The partnership, known as Affinity, was named as the preferred contractor in late October to supply and support Beechcraft T-6, Grob G-120 and Embraer Phenom 100 aircraft for training fixed-wing pilots and crew from Britain and elsewhere.
The deal is expected to run for at least 15 years and is likely to be worth over £500 million (US $784.5 million). ■