The UK is looking for a private company to provide jet and pilots to ‘fight’ against the Royal Air Force in order to train pilots as part of a £100 million contract.

The £100 million contract is for ‘Medium to fast speed Operational Readiness Training (ORT) aerial support service’.

Sound familiar? This is effectively a relaunch of the Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme. ASDOT would have seen British pilots trained against jets supplied by industry partners, however the contract was halted in 2019 with no winner selected. One of the selling points of the contract was that it would eliminate maintenance and storage costs of the aircraft used, with the MoD only paying for the time it worked with the aircraft.

Another plus would have been that the aircraft used would likely have been different to those operated by British pilots, providing experience of working with or against aircraft types not in use by British forces. You can read more about ASDOT here.

Anyway, here are the basics from the information notice published by the Ministry of Defence on the new programme.

“The service will be required to meet the following mandatory technical requirements:

• Delivery of an estimated 2000 flying hours (per annum, including transit time) with a maximum of 4 simultaneous sortie rate and up to 12 sorties daily in a 15-hour flying window. The flying window will need to be a flexible window, to meet customer demand.
• Aircraft must deliver sustainable Air Vehicle Availability (AVA) across an indicative performance window, with aircraft and avionics available consistently throughout the day.
• An Air Safety Management System, or equivalent, is required for the aircraft.
• CAA or MAA accreditation for the proposed aircraft and activities, with aircraft ready to commence operations in early Summer 2022. There is no ability for MOD to actively assist with the accreditation process; the expectation is that the registration is already complete or in progress.
• Available to commence contract activities from a UK base within a 30-minute transit time to D323 North Sea training complex. Suppliers will be required to source their own basing and infrastructure solution.
• Operations able to commence Summer 2022.
• The aircraft proposed must be equipped with air-to-air radar, radar warning equipment.

The radar will require:

  • A Pulse-Doppler (PD) system in the frequency band around 9.9 GHz, and capable of Low, Medium and High Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF), that is detectable as a radar and excites Combat Air platform mission data systems.
  • Radar Warning Receiver (RWR)/Radar Warning Equipment (RWE) capable of receiving within the 2-18 GHz frequency band.
  • TSPI Data Device capable of providing TSPI data, downloadable within 60 minutes of landing, to enable post-mission debriefing.

• Aircraft must be able to meet the performance envelope detailed in the ‘701945451-Full description of the procurement’ document on the Defence Sourcing Portal, available here – www.contracts.mod.uk/
The scope of this requirement includes three, one year options to extend.”

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Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

We shouldn’t be privatizing combat training for our armed services. This should be done in house.

Joshua Rieser
Joshua Rieser
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Could not agree more!

Latch71
Latch71
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

I would tend to agree, but if it saves money…..

Alex
Alex
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Just buy some Gripens JAS 39E/F to keep training in house.Plus can always be used for other roles.

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex

Lovely idea but “just” adding another fast jet type to the RAF fleet just for adversary training would cost a lot more than £100m a year…I doubt you would get 3 second-hand Grippens for that price, then you need to consider training up aircrew, ground crew, maintainers, basing etc, factor in operating costs and this number goes up dramatically.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Its adversary training and having it contracted out is nothing new: Cobham, now Draken International, have been doing this kind of thing in the UK for decades for both the RAF and RN.

Angus
Angus
1 month ago

@£50K per hour what are they hoping for, all the good kit has been picked up and shipped out to the US ? The RAF is another service in a dither. Value for money? Another cockup by the MOD on the horizon……
The Hawks also going from the FAA so there is a fleet needed there too???

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Angus

Should of kept a dozen Jaguars.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago

Its being done in the US by a number of companies using all sorts of aircraft types including
Mig 29
Mirage F1
mirage F3
Cheetahs
F5E
Kifr
Hunters
Albatros
Skyhawks
Mig 21
F16
Alpha jets
Hawks
Jet provost
Strikemasters

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

If the facilities are in the states why not use them?

I assume this is for traditional fly skills not the new evolving scenarios with umteen drones in the mix?

Tim Hirst
Tim Hirst
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark B

To use them it would need both the cooperation of the USAF, the basing of a significant part of the RAF’s fleet in the US and lots of forwards and backwards for personnel. This contract is for day to day training not just major war games like “Red Flag”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tim Hirst
Marked
Marked
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

All of them are relics that offer nothing versus a typhoon or lightning. Might as well go up against our own battle of Britain memorial flight and save the money.

Phylyp
Phylyp
1 month ago
Reply to  Marked

Many of those jets the US uses are tiny, fast and maneuverable – excellent for honing 2-on-2 piloting and dogfighting skills. For larger tactical training (flights of four, or squadrons), any manned jets of any reasonable vintage should be enough to present a busy tactical picture. I believe the USAF has also reactivated some F-117A Nighthawk jets for VLO training, in anticipation of peer adversaries. I do agree that the sheer variety of jets the US uses for adversary training is a maintenance and logistic challenge, but by outsourcing it to the private sector they pay to wash their hands… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

Trouble is that the UK regulators only seem happy with ex military jets that have once been in RAF/FAA service. So second hand Hawk 60 & Jaguars, are probably easier to get approved.

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Typhoon T1s or Gripen (RAE operates one) only option – has to have an air-to-air radar according to above. But other types might have UK MAA accreditation, or have been applied for under ASDOT maybe? Drakken has operated Falcon for RN for years, and before that Hunters for FRADU (from ’70s-90s).

Last edited 1 month ago by James Fennell
Cuthy
Cuthy
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Could we pick up some second hand Tornado F3 from the Saudis or someone? It would be easier for us to find pilots and ground crew.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Typhoon T1 would be too expensive to operate. Gripen & F-16 could be possible as BAE part built & marketed early Gripen & has been updating early F-16. A threeway partnership, with the contractor & regulator both supported by BAE, would allow Gripen A/B & F-16 A/B/C/D to be considered. The wild card, if we had “adults in the room”, would be a threeway deal between Britain, France & Eire. Upgraded Mirage 2000 sold to Eire for Air Defence & also to act as “red air” for the RAF. RAF pays Eire for its Mirage training time, which helps Eire… Read more »

John N
John N
1 month ago

Today the RAAF officially retired the F/A-18A/B fleet.

Maybe we can sell some to you poms?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0_5rnamq6Q8

Cheers,

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  John N

Not a bad idea – but you will need to get Drakken or some other firm to buy them first.

Phylyp
Phylyp
1 month ago
Reply to  John N

I half expected Canada to pick up those airframes!

Finney
Finney
1 month ago

If the provider is expected to provide their own base and infrastructure then how are they going to be able to offer a cheaper solution than the existing one which involves none of those CAPEX costs.
And what other customers are they going to be able to sell their services to other than the MoD? The Belgians? The Irish?
The idea that paying by the hour is cheaper only adds up is if other people are paying for other hours.

Daddy Mack
Daddy Mack
1 month ago

Maybe we could outsourse to the Russians and save the 100m? They’re always flying round here anyway…

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Eerrr haven’t Qatar just purchased some new hawks to be based at RAF Leaming to train 20 pilots a year. Surly the planes wouldn’t be used a lot and when not in use for direct training of Qatar pilots have some recently retired QFR poilets borrow them for a cushdy part time job for training ours. I’m sure 100 million would be ample to sweeten the deal with Qatar.

Lee Andrade
Lee Andrade
1 month ago

Surely there must be another air force In a neighbouring country with similar issues? Could we not deploy a flight (for example) to France with a flight of Rafael’s deployed here for dissimilar training? With the added advantage of flights deployed abroad gaining plenty of flight time and ‘combat enviroment’ experience? And. Everyone then just operates there own aircraft and regularly practise forward deploying and multiple types of dissimilar training?

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
1 month ago

Why not one use Typhoon 1’s? they are on the way out soon with loads of hours left in them.

Phylyp
Phylyp
1 month ago
Reply to  Luke Jones

I’d like to hear what objections there are to your idea – it sounds sensible (hey, maybe that’s it?) especially since in the aggressor role they don’t need to be expensively upgraded to a newer Tranche.

Last edited 1 month ago by Phylyp
Philip Lee
Philip Lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Luke Jones

According to their website, HHA are currently evaluating the F4 for addition to their fleet. Could that be linked to this contract? Scampton is in the right location.

Monty
Monty
1 month ago

I wonder if NATO has ever considered an adversary group for the use of all members? Probably wouldn’t be as good as a national capability but budgets are lean for many.