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UK buys Airbus H145 helicopters, simulators to boost rotary wing pilot training

Illustration; Airbus photo of a H145 helicopter

The UK defense ministry has signed a £183 million (approx. $238m) contract for the acquisition of four new Airbus H145 helicopters and a simulator in a bid to boost training services for new rotary wing pilots.

The new H145 helicopters and simulator will enable students to learn how to fly a range of missions, covering expected scenarios on operational deployment. In addition, the H145s enable students to practice winching tasks and rear crew activities.

The latest contract amendment is part of a wider program to increase training capacity for UK military pilots overall, as part of the £3.2 billion UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) program and helps address the increased demand for pilot training identified in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

“This £183 million boost for our helicopter training will see our student pilots benefit from an ultra-modern simulator, new infrastructure at RAF Shawbury and four brand-new Airbus H145 helicopters,” defense minister James Heappey said.

The four new H145 helicopters and simulator will be based at RAF Shawbury, Shropshire, which is where the rotary wing element of UKMFTS is delivered. The infrastructure improvements will cater for the increased student numbers.

“I am delighted to uplift the capacity of our tri-service military helicopter pilot training services that we deliver in partnership with Ascent,” Commodore Tom Manson, UKMFTS Head, Defence Equipment & Support, said.

“The new twin-engine Airbus H145s will enhance the current mix of H135 and H145s that are used on UKMFTS, providing increased flexibility to deliver the range of training required for both pilots and aircrewmen in advance of flying front line helicopters.”