A new synthetic training facility for the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Chinook Mk 6 heavy-lift helicopter has been officially opened at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, UK.

Equipped with the latest technology and advanced simulators, the purpose-built facility replicates real-life operations to train pilots and crewmembers of the Chinook helicopter fleet.

In addition, the Lockheed Martin-built training site features classrooms, mission planning and briefing rooms for training.

The £53m contract for the design, development and management of the facility, in addition to the introduction of the Chinook training system, was awarded to Lockheed Martin by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2015.

UK Armed Forces State Minister Mark Lancaster said: “The Chinook force has continuously proven itself by supporting humanitarian efforts, strengthening counter-terror operations and providing essential support to our armed forces.

“New systems will help train Chinook Mk 6 crew members on how to work in collaboration in specific flying, emergency and mission capabilities of the aircraft.”

“Our ability to put it to use will be bolstered by this multi-million-pound new training facility. Chinooks are the backbone of our battlefield helicopter capability so it’s crucial this capability and its crews are receiving this support into the next decade.”

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Advanced technology integrated at the facility includes two flight deck device simulators, a rear crew device and a suite of computer-based training equipment.

New systems will help train Chinook Mk 6 crew members on how to work in collaboration in specific flying, emergency and mission capabilities of the aircraft such as relocating troops and equipment around the battlefield or evacuating citizens from dangerous conditions.

The synthetic training facility will deliver approximately 4,000 simulator hours each year for a period of ten years, ensuring pilots are always ready to be deployed.

The RAF Chinook is the UK’s only military heavy-lift helicopter that can be used to transport up to 54 troops or 10t of supplies in support of varied operations.