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02 Jun 08. Navy, RAF and Army flying training will be completely transformed, thanks to a £635m PFI contract with Ascent, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and VT Group; the first step in a 25 year programme.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said, “The partnering contract with Ascent brings together MoD and industry skills to deliver a first class flying training capability. It will significantly improve training for Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army aircrew by bringing together the current range of fragmented training schemes into one modern and cohesive programme.”

Ascent will work with MoD to deliver the UK Military Flight Training System (UKMFTS) designing, delivering and managing ground and flying training across multiple locations in the UK.

The UKMFTS programme will cater for the different training needs of the entire flying element of the UK front-line, ranging from fast-jet pilots and weapons systems operators, through helicopter and multi-engine pilots to all the rear crew personnel. It will encompass all flying training for students following selection up to the point they are ready to fly operational aircraft such as Typhoon, Chinook and C17.

UKMFTS will build on the Armed Services’ proud heritage in flying training and delivering first-class training to produce high calibre Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army aircrew remains our priority. Flying training will remain focused on equipping our personnel to meet contemporary and future threats.

Working with Ascent we intend to reduce costs and improving overall training times for aircrew and reducing delays between flying courses.
The first step will deliver Fast Jet Pilot training at RAF Valley in Wales, using the HAWK 128 aircraft, and providing the training infrastructure, including classrooms, simulators and aircraft hangars.

Fred Ross of Lockheed Martin has been named managing director of Ascent and Ken Cornfield of VT Support Services will serve as Ascent deputy managing director.

Under UKMFTS, the MoD maintains the training output requirements and standards whilst providing elements such as airfields, fuel and instructors. Ascent will design the overall system and deliver the training capability including delivering a proven Training Management Information System and the procurement of aircraft platforms and simulators.

“UKMFTS is a model private-public initiative that will enable us to work with the Ministry of Defence for the next two and a half decades, providing tailored solutions that will optimise the capabilities of UK aircrews,” said Dale Bennett, president of Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training & Support.

Ascent will take over the role on an incremental basis to ensure minimal disruption to the current training programme. Additional contracts detailing future services and purchases will be announced as the programme progresses. The training covers the period following Aircrew Selection up to the point the students leave UKMFTS ready to fly in their operational aircraft.

Ascent’s selection as UKMFTS Training System Partner in November 2006 followed a competition to select a partner who would 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.

Lockheed Martin UK chief executive, Ian Stopps said, “The key to this programme is a successful partnership that will provide 25 years of exacting training for UK aircrews. Ascent and MoD will work together to ensure UK air crews remain amongst the most highly-trained and respected in the world.”

Lockheed Martin and VT have a wealth of experience of flying training and aircraft support in the UK and around the world. VT currently operates the RAF Tucano logistics and maintenance programme (Tucano Total Support programme) and the Light Aircraft Flying Training

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