The contractor will provide their own ‘adversary’ jets to perform air-to-air combat training for the Royal Air Force.

Sound familiar? This is effectively a relaunch of the 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.

“This notice is for the purpose of informing potential suppliers of the intended procurement of a medium to fast speed Operational Readiness Training (ORT) aerial support service, to include Air-to-Air, Target, Threat Simulation and Mission Augmentation training.

This is an urgent requirement for the RAF and the intention is to utilise the DSPCR Competitive Procedure with Negotiation, using the accelerated timescales.
Due to the security classification of this project, and in accordance with Reg 6(3A)(a) of DSPCR, any potential competition that follows this PIN will be limited to those suppliers that can provide the requirement with employees who are UK nationals.

We are looking to hear from companies that can commit to:

  • Delivery of an estimated 2400 flying hours (per annum) with a maximum of 4 simultaneous sortie rate and up to 12 sorties daily in a 15 hour flying window
  • CAA or MAA accreditation for the proposed aircraft and activities
  • Available to commence contract activities from a UK base within a 30 minute transit time to D323 North Sea training complex
  • Operations able to commence Summer 2022″

The value of the contract is expected to be £100 million.

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Josh P
Josh P
9 days ago

This seems like the perfect capability to set up multinationally. I wonder if the government has considered establishing a NATO adversary combat training facility? This would potentially mean access to a wider array of opposing platforms, cost efficiencies at scale, and ability to learn lessons from allies.

James Fennell
James Fennell
9 days ago
Reply to  Josh P

They need to be UK based to support the UK ranges and training areas. The Canadian Discovery fleet are also used by Germany, I believe..

Last edited 9 days ago by James Fennell
Pete
Pete
9 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Would make perfect sense to be a shared international capability with higher utilisation across multiple airforces. …Albeit with capability to fwd deploy to different bases / training regions….as the hawks did in 2020 for Joint Warrior

mikeym
mikeym
8 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

It’s the “Top Aces” group wiht a fleet of Alpha Jets, A-4s, F-16s. they are training the Germans, the USAF, RCAF

Paul T
Paul T
8 days ago
Reply to  Josh P
MarkT
MarkT
9 days ago

I wonder if there will be a similar contract for the RN? I had hoped ASDOT would see civilian fast jets operating alongside the Falcon 20’s at Bournemouth. I guess if Draken win this new contract they would operate out of Teeside, Bournemouth i guess is a bit too far south 🙁

James Fennell
James Fennell
9 days ago
Reply to  MarkT

I think it is for both RAF and RN.

expat
expat
9 days ago
Reply to  MarkT

I thought Draken also operate out of Bournemouth?

MarkT
MarkT
9 days ago
Reply to  expat

They do, but I believe their work is mainly for the RN in the channel, Draken also have jets up north. I’m not sure that Bournemouth will be within the 30 transit time to the training area mentioned.

Expat
Expat
9 days ago
Reply to  MarkT

Do you know where they’ll operate the F16s they’re acquiring?

Challenger
Challenger
9 days ago

ASDOT to aggressor Typhoons and now back to something ASDOT shaped again. Maybe it wouldn’t be so urgent if the MoD didn’t decide to ditch its existing Hawks and Typhoons first and then realise they still need to plug the gap!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

Agreed and not before 2035 in my opinion particularly for Typhoon T1’s. Hopefully, Tempest will be up and running by then.

“Pointing to the aggressive schedule of the FCAS venture, he notes: “We need to maintain pace with our adversaries – we struggle to do that at the moment.”

https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/new-mindset-the-key-to-tempest-success-partners-say/145584.article

Last edited 9 days ago by Nigel Collins
James Fennell
James Fennell
9 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

This kind of dithering costs us dearly not just financially, but in lost time and capability. Its this kind of indecision that led to us failing to recapitalise our vehicle fleet. Trying to hang onto tranche 1 Typhoons of marginal usefulness, which use up urgently needed fast jet pilots and are costly to operate as aggressors – is not the way forward – I imagine the RAF were told to divest old and expensive to operate fleets of legacy platforms and invest in the next generation – it seems to be a theme across the services post IR. Without Typhoon… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by James Fennell
Challenger
Challenger
8 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Are the older Typhoon’s not good enough or too costly to retain as aggressors or a bit of both?

Nothing against an ASDOT type solution if it ended up being cost effective and offering the same level of capability. It’s the back to front and chaotic decision making that’s the bigger issue, with replacement systems delayed and then legacy kit offered up as sacrificial lambs in the next round of cuts.

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
9 days ago

The costings are all a bit of a red herring – to avoid maintenance and storage costs. These costs will be factored into the required ‘hire time’ for the required flying hours.

Phylyp
Phylyp
9 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

It’s the usual argument between CAPEX and OPEX – standing up an internal aggressor squadron requires an up-front capital investment (either a direct cost of purchasing jets, or indirectly by taking jets away from frontline duties leaving a gap in capability/numbers). Contracting it out amortizes that cost across the “hire time” as you point out, but it also serves to reduce the sticker shock, and more importantly, it’s easier to fund from a budget subject to constant SDSRs. On the human side, one can hope that in such a model, talented pilots find their way into private sector companies providing… Read more »

Steve M
Steve M
9 days ago

Use the Typhoon Tranche1’s 🙂 sell them to the winner

Last edited 9 days ago by Steve M
Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

They would be to expensive to operate for a private company.

James Fennell
James Fennell
8 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Less so for BAe

Jay R
Jay R
8 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Many systems of the Typhoon are still highly classified, this includes the internal geometry of the air intakes. So there is no chance any civilian contractor can even consider operating Typhoons.

Jon
Jon
6 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Civilian contractors operate a good many things more highly classified than the internals of s Typhoon intake.

chris stocken
chris stocken
9 days ago

HHA could be expanding then! That would be nice.

Andrew Thorne
Andrew Thorne
9 days ago

When will the MoD and other government contractors learn that this does not lead to efficiency savings….

BB85
BB85
8 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

Greece and Turkey have found a creative way to supply each other with this service for free over the years, maybe we could do the same with France over the channel.

Marked
Marked
9 days ago

I just can’t see how this could be done and save money unless it’s very multinational!

The costs of running the jets and paying staff still exist plus a profit will be needed on top of it.

To set that up for the uk only will end up costing more than the RAF running it’s own aggressors.

Love the fact its an urgent requirement. Aka we’ve cut something before we have thought about what will replace it. Business as usual.

James Fennell
James Fennell
8 days ago
Reply to  Marked

In this case I think contractor owned / operated is a good idea. There are companies like Draken which have invested in large fleets and have a support structure. They have a small air force including 30 ex-Polish and Czech MIG21Bis, 21 ex French Mirage F1, 12 ex SAAF Atlas Cheetah (Mirage III upgraded with IAI Kfir avionics), 13 ex-RNZAF A-4K Skyhawks and 23 new build Aero L-1159 Alca trainers. They also operate the ex-RN Dassault Falcon taget tugs (stil owned by MOD) in the UK.

They can offer really dissimilar adversaries and a range of different types.

Last edited 8 days ago by James Fennell
Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
8 days ago

Love the skull and cross bones!!

Sorry, not a technical post.

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago

I read an article on the UK firm that operates Hawker Hunters. They said it is easier to operate (in the UK) with a jet that has been in UK military service, as the regulators have experience of it. So go round the world looking for second hand Hawks & Jaguars with reasonable hours left on them.

James Fennell
James Fennell
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Hunters are still operated in the USA in support of their armed forces I believe.

Jay R
Jay R
8 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

I stand to be corrected, but as far as I know, the use of reheat or afterburner, is not allowed over the UK mainland by any civilian aircraft. Reheat can only be used by the military overland. Is this correct?

I maybe wrong, as I am sure the Swedish historic flight, with their Viggen, have displayed in the UK?

John Hartley
John Hartley
7 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Concorde used reheat to take off from Heathrow.

James
James
6 days ago

This is a great idea and when they’re not going up against the RAF they can give paid joyrides to the public to supplement their income and maybe I can finally get a go in a fast jet

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 days ago

I had a an idea that countries band together to provide it. Say UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden for example.
That way all the countries pilots get maximum training in multiple roles against multiple types.
Is there a reason this couldn’t be done and wouldn’t be beneficial

JB87
JB87
18 hours ago

I wonder if Draken Europe plan to buy some of 100SQN Hawk T.1?