£80m investment in new helicopter training equipment for RAF and Royal Navy

Fresh bid made to save former Falklands flagship

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The Ministry of Defence will spend £80m on new equipment to train Royal Navy and RAF helicopter pilots and air crews of the future.

A £51 million contract with Lockheed Martin UK, which has a base in Havant, will support Chinook Mk 6 training and a £29 million contract has been awarded to AgustaWestland to provide Merlin Mk 4/4a aircrew Synthetic Training Devices.

The simulators will be based at military bases in Somerset and Hampshire with the two contracts providing around 130 jobs, including for the construction of a new schoolhouse.

The equipment will provide a realistic representation of the operating environments the crews will fly in, and will enable them to practice manoeuvres and procedures safely and repeatedly to enhance their learning.

Minister of state for defence procurement Philip Dunne said: ‘We are providing our armed forces with one of the most capable and technologically advanced helicopter fleets in the world, and to complement this, it is essential that we also provide them with very best and latest training.

‘Alongside essential flying experience, these world-class simulators will play a vital role in ensuring our people are capable, competent and ready to deploy on operations around the globe.

‘Over the last year, we are very proud to have delivered a number of new helicopter capabilities to our armed forces, and we plan to invest a further £11 billion over the next decade to sustain and further improve our fleet.’

The Chinook Mk 6 synthetic training service will be housed in a purpose-built facility at RAF Odiham in Hampshire and will include two flight deck device simulators, a rear crew training device and a suite of computer based training facilities.

The contract with Lockheed Martin UK includes two years for the design and production of the equipment and the training facility, with a follow on 10-year training service support package.

Meanwhile, training for the pilots and rear crew of the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk 4/4a helicopters will be provided through the use of new simulators at the aircraft’s main operating base at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

As part of the contract, AgustaWestland has selected simulator specialist CAE to supply two flight training devices, a flight navigation procedures trainer and a rear crew trainer, which will be delivered from 2017 and installed in existing buildings.