30 November 2006. U.K. Defence Minister Lord Drayson has appointed the Ascent Consortium, the 50:50 Joint Venture between VT Group and Lockheed Martin UK, as the preferred bidder for the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). Proposals submitted by the Ascent Consortium in competition were judged to offer the best prospect of providing a value for money PPP/PFI solution to meet the tri-Service flying training requirement.
The resulting Contract will contain PFI elements, with the Ascent Consortium owning and maintaining certain assets and providing training services, infrastructure and some personnel. Some aircraft platforms, notably the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT), will remain in MoD’s ownership, albeit the TSP will be responsible for delivering the AJT training service. Employment numbers will only be finalised as the TSP takes on additional training capabilities, but initially the Ascent Consortium expects to employ only a small number of people in the UK. Rival bidding consortia were from KBR/Bombardier and Thales.
The total programme cost is estimated at £6bn and will commence with initial service provision to support Advanced Jet Training operations, following anticipated contract closure during 2007. Thereafter, other training capabilities will be subsumed incrementally until full service provision is achieved.
UKMFTS is a programme which will modernise flight training for Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army aircrew and reduce overall costs by bringing together the current range of fragmented training schemes into a cohesive, more effective and streamlined package. It is considered that UKMFTS, by delivering flying training capability as a service, will offer better value for money than conventional asset-based procurement.
Lord Drayson said: “The UKMFTS project will exploit the strengths of MoD and industry to deliver flying training that will ensure our aircrew retain their leading-edge operational skills. We look forward to taking forward contract negotiations with the Ascent consortium.”
Contract award will be subject to the successful conclusion of negotiations. This is the first step in a multi-billion pound programme to overhaul military flying training.
The UKMFTS programme will span 25 years and cover the different training needs of the entire flying element of the UK front line, from fast-jet pilots and weapons systems operators, to rotary and multi-engine pilots, and all the rear crew disciplines. It will encompass all flying training from the moment young men and women are selected as potential aircrew, through to their arrival at conversion units for training on operational aircraft.
The first UKMFTS delivery will be a Ground Based Training Environment (GBTE) for the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) – Hawk 128. Future training capability to be delivered includes Rear Crew, Basic Trainer, Multi Engine and Rotary Wing.
Ascent’s selection as the UKMFTS Training System Partner follows a unique contractual approach by the MoD that uses partnering to harness the collective skills of the MoD and industry. Ascent will work with the MoD over the life of the programme to design, deliver and manage ground and flying training at multiple locations across the UK.
Under UKMFTS, the MoD maintains the training output requirements and standards while providing elements such as airfields, fuel and instructors. Ascent will design the overall system and deliver the training capability. The role also includes delivering Lockheed Martin’s proven Training Management Information System and the procurement of aircraft platforms and simulators.
Lockheed Martin and VT have a wealth of experience of flying training and aircraft support in the UK and around the world. VT currently runs the Tucano logistics and maintenance programme and the Light Aircraft Flying Training programme for the RAF. Lockheed Martin provides training for more than 20,000 aircrews annually and was recently awarded a 20 ye