MoD invests �80m in new helicopter crew training equipment

The Ministry of Defence has announced a £80m investment in simulators to help train Royal Air Force and Royal Navy helicopter pilots and rear crews.

The equipment will provide a realistic representation of the operating environments the crews will fly in and will enable them to practice manoeuvres and procedures safely and repeatedly to enhance their learning.

A £51m contract with Lockheed Martin UK will support Chinook Mk 6 training and a £29 million contract has been awarded to AgustaWestland to provide Merlin Mk 4/4a aircrew Synthetic Training Devices.

The simulators will be at military bases in Somerset and Hampshire, with the two contracts that have been awarded securing 130 jobs.  

Air Vice-Marshal Julian Young, Director Helicopters at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: “Simulation is a solution that when blended with live flying events provides the optimum individual and team-level training.

“Although it can never replace live training fully, being able to create a wide variety of training scenarios and operating settings can provide a more challenging, safer and controllable environment to help our forces practice in a way that is essential to effective mission preparation.”

The Chinook Mk 6 synthetic training service will be located in a purpose-built facility at RAF Odiham in Hampshire and will include two flight-deck device simulators, a rear crew training device and a suite of computer-based training facilities.

The contract with Lockheed Martin includes two years for the design and production of the equipment and the training facility, with a follow-on 10-year training service support package.

Meanwhile, training for the pilots and rear crew of the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk 4/4a helicopters will be provided through the use of new simulators at the aircraft’s Main Operating Base at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

As part of the contract, AgustaWestland has selected simulator specialist CAE to supply two flight training devices, a flight navigation procedures trainer and a rear crew trainer, which will be delivered from 2017 and installed in existing buildings.

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