LONDON – Shrinking U.K. defense budgets may cause the armed services to outsource their electronic warfare (EW) training to private industry, according to one training company.
The U.K. Royal Air Force in particular may be readier to look at such a move, said Bill Brand, a training capability manager for MASS, a training company based in Little Paxton, England.
MASS, which runs training courses in EW, countermeasures design, and communications, recently opened a new training center in the eastern English city of Lincoln.
Over the past decade, the R.A.F. has increasingly outsourced a range of support functions, up to and including some pilot training activities.
Perhaps the most striking example of this trend is its incoming fleet of 14 Airbus A330-based Voyager multi-role tanker-transport aircraft, which will be leased from EADS-led consortium AirTanker rather than owned by the R.A.F. Under this arrangement, the Voyagers will be available for third-party commercial use when not required by the military.
Brand, who served in the R.A.F. for 28 years and was recently involved in EW trials on the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon, added that Middle East and Far East nations are increasingly looking to set up their own EW training establishments. Historically, most of MASS’s students have come from overseas nations, notably these two regions.
“A lot of customers have embryonic EW capability but want to develop it and set up their own EW centers,” he said. Some of MASS’s training courses are used to “help to provide that indigenous capability.”
Courses at Lincoln can range from a week to four months and span entry, intermediate and advanced stages of training, using EW, radar and communication system simulators. MASS also stations personnel in the Middle East who run standing communications simulation courses for local clients.
The trainers for the most part have operational military EW expertise and are joined by academics and technical specialists to provide classroom learning, using both simulation and scenario-based visualization tools. Through its partnerships with equipment providers, the students can use real systems, both in the classroom and on organized visits.
The new center has four training rooms with interactive training, smart boards, touch screens and computer software.
“We have delivered over 40,000 days of high-quality EW training in recent years to armed forces personnel worldwide, ranging from one-day courses to one year courses, including MSc qualifications and on-the-job training too,” said Ashley Lane, managing director for MASS.