The U.K. Royal Air Force has passed a major training landmark: the first group of fast jet students has graduated from the United Kingdom Military Flying Training System.
In June, four young pilots passed out of the final stage of the more-than-two-year Advanced Jet Training (AJT) course at RAF Valley, North Wales.
One of the most significant examples of contractorization by the U.K. armed forces, UKMFTS has replaced the flying training programs for the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps.
The training system incorporates purpose-built squadron headquarters, classrooms, flight simulators, aircraft and a mix of civilian and military instructors. Its syllabus includes many aspects of training drawn from front-line aircraft, which is meant to get new pilots to frontline squadrons with a far higher level of training than their predecessors.
UKMFTS was developed by a public-private partnership that brought together Ascent Flight Training, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock International Group; the Directorate of Flying Training for the RAF’s 22 (Training) Group; and the UKMFTS project team from the Ministry of Defence.
“This is another major milestone in the continuing evolution of UKMFTS,” said Jim Keeler, managing director of Ascent Flight Training. “Military aviation training has undergone significant change with increased emphasis on synthetic training, which has unlocked the potential to improve efficiency and lower costs.”
The AJT course teaches air-to-air radar and beyond-visual-range air combat with simulations of advanced missile systems and radars. The students also experienced air and ground scenarios that simulated sophisticated surface-to-air missile threats and smart weapons. This training was completed in both flight simulator and live flying sorties.
The four graduating students underwent 23 weeks of elementary flying training and 46 weeks of basic fast jet training, both undertaken by the RAF. Ascent was responsible for the 45-week AJT portion of the course, which uses the BAE Systems Hawk T2 jet trainer.
Onboard software provides the Hawk T2, a new-generation development of the Hawk jet trainer that has served with the RAF since the mid-1970s, with simulated radar and sensor capability. This allows pilots to train as though the aircraft is fitted with equipment such as a radar warning receiver, defensive aids and medium-range air-to-air missiles.
A further 10 students are due to graduate from the Advanced Jet Training course by the end of this year.