The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has signed a £183m contract with Ascent Flight Training Management to enhance training services for Rotary Wing pilots.

The contract amendment signed by the MoD’s UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) includes uplift of four new Airbus H145 helicopters, a new flight simulator, and improve training infrastructure.

With the four new H145 helicopters and simulator, which will be based at RAF Shawbury, Shropshire, students will be able to learn how to fly a range of missions, covering expected scenarios on operational deployment.

Students can also practice winching tasks and rear crew activities using the helicopters.

The improvements in infrastructure will cater to the increased student numbers.

Defence Minister James Heappey said: “This £183m 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.

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“These crucial upgrades will help our students become the finest helicopter pilots in the world.”

The Rotary Wing contract amendment is part of a programme to increase training capacity for military pilots in the UK as part of the £3.2bn UKMFTS programme, which is delivering training systems for aircrews to keep them prepared for the operational front line.

Furthermore, it helps to meet the increased demand for pilot training identified in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

UKMFTS Defence Equipment & Support head commodore Tom Manson 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.”

In May 2016, Ascent Flight Training secured a £1.1bn contract from the UK MoD to design, deliver and manage rotary-wing training.