Cobham has been contracted by QinetiQ to provide helicopter support to the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) and Rotary Wing Test and Evaluation Squadron (RWTES).

QinetiQ and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) jointly operate ETPS and RWTES, under the long-term partnering agreement (LTPA).

QinetiQ Air and Space business managing director John Anderson said: "This aircraft and associated services are welcome additions to ETPS, which trains some of the world’s finest test pilots and engineers.

"The contract demonstrates the way in which we work with industry partners to provide value for money to the MoD."

Valued at around £2m, the contract will see Cobham providing a single Bell412 HAR2 helicopter, aircrew training, and supporting maintenance personnel to be based at MoD Boscombe Down.

Work under the contract started in May and will be carried out over a period of 18 months.

Cobham Aviation Services sector president Peter Nottage said: "We are delighted to win this new contract with QinetiQ to support both ETPS and RWTES.

"The helicopter will be operated on the military register and the contract is evidence of our considerable experience of delivering Military Registered Contractor Owned aircraft (MRCOA) under long-term performance based contracts. We look forward to working with QinetiQ to deliver these services."

The ETPS teaches skills that are required for pilots to undertake all forms of research and development test flying.

It provides test and evaluation training to MoD and overseas governments to ensure efficient and cost-effective deployment of equipment to front operations.