LONDON — Britain has taken delivery of the first of a new generation of aircraft set to revitalize its fixed-wing military pilot training capabilities.
Affinity Flying Training Services delivered two Grob G-120TPs to the British Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Cranwell on Nov. 17, kicking off a program which will see 38 aircraft across three different types handed over by the end of 2018 to replace Britain's aging stock of trainers.
The delivery comes nine months after Affinity, a joint venture between KBR and Elbit Systems, secured a £500 million (US $622 million) deal to supply fixed-wing aircraft for the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) program led by Ascent.
The G-120TPs will be used to teach basic aviation principles and handling skills as well as provide an introduction to basic navigation, night flying and instrument-only flying. The aircraft will be based out of RAF Cranwell and RAF Barkston Heath.
The new, fixed-wing aircraft are a key part of the Ascent program to train future British military aircrew.
The private finance initiative (PFI) deal signed in February with Ascent, the Lockheed Martin-Babcock joint venture running the UKMFTS program, will see Affinity procure, operate and maintain 10 Beechcraft T-6C Texan aircraft, 23 Grob G-120TP Prefect turboprops, and five Embraer Phenom 100 jets to train RAF and Royal Navy aircrew. The deal runs until 2033.
The first Texan and Phenom aircraft are scheduled for delivery next year. The final Grob is due for delivery in March 2018, the last Phenom in January 2018 and final T6-C in November 2018.
The deal will see the current training fleets of Grob G-115, Beechcraft King Air 200/350s and Shorts Tucano pensioned off.
Advanced training on RAF-owned BAE Systems Hawk jet trainers is also part of the UKMFTS program but is separate to the Affinty deal.
Airbus Helicopters signed a similar deal in May to provide 32 helicopters for the UKMFTS program.The first deliveries for that start in 2018.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.