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June 11, 2015

New UK military aircrew training system delayed by six years, says NAO

The implementation of a new training system for UK Military aircrew has been delayed by almost six years, after the government decided to cut the spending for training programme, a report from National Audit Office has revealed.

By Samseer M

The implementation of a new training system for UK Military aircrew has been delayed by almost six years, after the government decided to cut the spending for training programme, a report from National Audit Office has revealed.

Under a contract signed in 2008, Ascent, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Babcock, was assigned to implement the United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). The system was scheduled to be at full capacity by 2014.

Ascent was contracted to deliver aircraft and simulators for training and to implement a new approach through five different training packages. The programme is now scheduled to be at full capacity from December 2019.

However, the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) decision to cut the amount for training from £6.8bn to £3.2bn resulted in delay of the programme, which only implemented two packages so far.

"NAO has recommended that the MoD should encourage better performance from Ascent through effectively incentivising it to work as a partner."

National Audit Office head Amyas Morse said: "The Department needs to understand better actual training performance and what affects performance before it can secure significant improvements from Ascent.

"Otherwise, there is a real risk that moving to the new training will affect the military’s ability to train the right number of aircrew at the right time."

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), major reasons for the delay include the governments’ decision to reduce the size of the front line fleet of aircraft, which reduced the number of aircrew entering training each year.

In addition, the changes to the funding approach and poor contractor performance between 2008 and 2012 also led to this delay, the report stated.

NAO has recommended that the MoD should encourage better performance from Ascent through effectively incentivising it to work as a partner.

Moreover, it has to assess the cost and time implications of increasing training capacity and also agree to formal contingency plans to cove gaps in training during the move to new coaching.

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