26 Oct 2017

£90M investment announced for helicopter simulation centre

More than £90M is to be invested as part of a world-class helicopter simulation centre designed to ready the next generation of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy helicopter pilots for operational duty.

These state-of-the-art simulators will put prospective pilots through their paces, replicating such high pressure scenarios as blizzard conditions, enemy fire, power failures and electronic warfare.

Furthermore, the funding will help sustain 70 jobs at the Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility based at RAF Benson, South Oxfordshire.

Defence Equipment and Support – the procurement arm of the Ministry of Defence – also penned a contract amendment with simulator specialist CAE Aircrew Training Services. CAE will train Chinook, Puma and Merlin aircrews at the purpose-built facility, following the extension of its contract by an additional eight years.

Chinook and Puma aircrews will be trained until the Puma’s planned out-of-service date, while Merlin Mk3 training will continue for at least two more years as the Royal Navy transitions from the Mk3 to the Mk4.

The centre will come equipped with six CAE-built dynamic mission simulators – three Chinook, two Merlin and one Puma – together with four computer-based ground school training classrooms and a Tactical Control Centre that allows for operational mission training.

Adrian Baguley, Director Air Support at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support, said: “The importance of effective synthetic training cannot be underestimated and continues to play an increasingly important role in our overall training curriculum.

“The Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility has consistently delivered a high standard of quality training to the operators of our front line helicopter capabilities. This agreement continues to maintain the world-leading ground school and simulator training facility for our helicopter aircrews.”

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