$3B in training deals for European firms

May 25, 2012 at 12:46 PM
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LONDON, May 25 (UPI) -- Military pilot training and training aircraft were in the news this week, with European companies reaping more than $3 billion in contracts.

BAE Systems in Britain reported more than $2.5 billion of that total for supplying training services and some 77 trainer aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. accounted for the remainder. Under a contract signed with India, Pilatus will provide the country with 75 PC-7 MkII turboprop aircraft, together with an integrated ground-based training system and logistics support.

"Following agreement between the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, under the Saudi-British Defense Cooperation Program, we have been awarded a contract … to support the future aircrew training requirements of the Royal Saudi Air Force," BAE said.

The contract covers the supply of training equipment and devices such as simulators and training aids. It also includes the aircraft that will be used for training Saudi pilots: 22 BAE Systems Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer planes for advanced training and 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft for basic flight training.

Deliveries of the Pilatus PC-21s will begin in 2014. Deliveries of Hawk aircraft begin in 2016, BAE said.

"We are honored that BAE Systems has been awarded this contract to provide the Royal Saudi Air Force with aircraft and training equipment to meet their future aircrew training needs," said Guy Griffiths, BAE's group managing director of international business. "We have a long history in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and working with Pilatus, we will provide the RSAF with the best training platforms to meet their requirements.

"Through the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer, the trainee fast jet pilots will have access to the very latest in advanced simulation for radar, weapons and defensive aids training to enable a smooth transition to front line aircraft, including Typhoon."

Britain's Ministry of Defense said Hawk AJTs will eventually replace Saudi Arabia's current fleet of Hawk Mark 65/65a trainers.

"The U.K. government warmly welcomes the Saudi Arabian government's decision to confirm U.K. support for its officer and aircrew training requirements," the ministry said.

In announcing its contract with India, Pilatus said the agreement contains an option clause for extending the scope of this contract within three years of its signing and provides for establishing in-country, depot-level maintenance capabilities, including a required transfer of technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., of which the Indian government is the primary shareholder.

Pilatus also entered into a 30-percent offset agreement with India.

"Pilatus has significant confidence in the Indian defense market with its highly skilled workforce, and it is our intention to leverage the offset opportunity to establish manufacturing capability for the region in support of our business plans for India," it said.

Delivery of the aircraft is to begin late this year.

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