22 January, 2020

£183m Boost for Military Helicopter Training

The MOD’s UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) has signed a £183 million contract to boost training services for new Rotary Wing pilots.

The contract amendment includes:

An uplift of four new Airbus H145 helicopters
A state-of-the-art simulator and infrastructure improvements
Support in attracting and training personnel to meet the increased helicopter demand from the frontline
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.

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

The Rotary Wing contract amendment was signed by UKMFTS - part of Defence, Equipment & Support (DE&S) - and Ascent Flight Training Management Ltd, which delivers pilot training for the UKMFTS in a partnering arrangement. It is part of a wider programme to increase training capacity for UK military pilots overall, as part of the £3.2 billion UKMFTS programme and helps address the increased demand for pilot training identified in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

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.

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

The H145 family (BK117, EC145 and H145) is a well-proven training aircraft with more than 1,300 helicopters in service around the world and has clocked more than 5.5 million flight hours.

The UKMFTS Programme is delivering a world-class, state-of-the-art training system which is a global exemplar for training aircrew in preparation for the operational front line.


  • Powerplant two Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2E turboshafts rated at 771shp continuous power
  • Length overall 44ft 9in (13.64m)
  • Height 13ft 1½in (4m)
  • Maximum take-off weight 8,157lb (3,700kg)
  • Never exceed speed 143kt (265km/h)
  • Maximum range 352nm (651km)
  • Hovering ceiling in ground effect 12,550ft


The Airbus Helicopters H145 Jupiter provides advanced rotary wing flying training.


Like the H135, the H145 has introduced digital technology to the helicopter training programme.  The Juno and Jupiter cockpits include the very latest in Airbus Helicopters avionics, debuting the manufacturer’s new Helionix suite, which delivers enhanced safety and improved situational awareness.


Germany’s MBB and Japan’s Kawasaki joined forces in 1977 to design and build the BK117, a twin-engined multi-role helicopter notably equipped with twin clamshell loading doors in its aft fuselage.  The first prototype completed its maiden flight on June 13, 1979 and deliveries began in 1983. 
DASA and subsequently Eurocopter continued the co-operation with Kawasaki, producing a range of improved variants before embarking upon design of a new helicopter in 1997.  This combined the BK117’s rear section and cabin with the cockpit and forward section of the EC135, creating a new-generation BK117 equivalent that was designated EC145 from 1999. Further variants followed, including the dramatically redesigned EC145T2, which emerged in 2011 equipped with Arriel 2E turboshafts and a fenestron.  This aircraft forms the basis of the current production H145, which in its latest version includes Helionix avionics, for which Ascent is the first customer.  All three H145 Jupiter helicopters ordered against the UK MFTS requirement had been delivered by May 2017. 

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