March 3 (UPI) -- QinetiQ will purchase four H125 helicopters from Airbus to support its modernization efforts for Britain's Empire Test Pilots' School.
The Empire Test Pilots' School, or ETPS, is an institution tasked with training British military pilots. Students can also receive training in flight test engineering. The facility is managed by QinetiQ alongside the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
"Assembling a fleet that provides the very best value and performance is vital to this strategy and the H125 will play a leading role," QinetiQ's John Anderson said in a press release. "It's an exciting time at ETPS, not just for us, but for our customers, who can look forward to improved programs, delivered in more flexible way, using cutting edge aircraft."
Under the company's $18 million deal with Airbus, QinetiQ will receive upgrades for Garmin G500-equipped aircraft. Enhancements will include a 3-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and traffic awareness systems.
The new helicopters are expected to enter service in 2019.
"It is hugely encouraging to think that for many years to come, all ETPS helicopter test pilots and flight test engineers will train on Airbus aircraft," Airbus Helicopters U.K. managing director Colin James added. "With this deal Airbus Helicopters is committed to providing long-term support to help make future ETPS helicopter training a success."