The British Ministry of Defense has selected four groups to bid for its upcoming Air Support to Defense Operational Training (ASDOT) requirement. Each of the groups selected for the program has teamed with a training services specialists from the USA, Canada, and Israel to deliver adversary aircraft and weapons. The winning group will operate various high-performance jets simulating aggressor fighter and attack planes, cruise missiles and electronic combat to training British air, land and naval forces. A final selection is expected in September 2018 followed by the contract award in 2020 that could be worth up to £1.5 billion over 15 years.
The four groups include the Red Aces team lead by Leonardo, joined by Canadian Top Aces, – formerly known as ‘Discovery Air Defense Services’ and the UK based Inzpire. Top Aces provides similar services to the Canadian forces with operates Alpha Jet trainers and Skyhawk A-4N fighters. Cobham, formerly the FR Aviation is the second group that team with US-based Draken International for this bid. Draken owns the world’s largest fleet of tactical fighter aircraft, operating 150 aircraft in eight types, from target towing business jets to fully avionic-equipped MACH-2 fighter planes. Top Aces and Draken both operate fleets of civilian registered high-performance military aircraft retired from active service and operated by experienced military veterans.
A third group, formed by Babcock has and Elbit Systems was also selected. Elbit operates outsourced training services for several air forces, including the RAF. The fourth group is Thales, that joined QinetiQ and Textron’s Airland to offer the latter’s Scorpion light combat aircraft for this role. Designed for affordable operation, the Scorpion will be equipped with specialized payloads and avionics to maximize training efficiency.
Apart from the aircraft used for training services ASDOT will also require high-performance jets to provide red-team aggressors. Apart from supersonic maneuverability, these jets will also require radars, radar warning sensors, and some countermeasures to simulate realistic threats. ASDOT will replace several services currently operated with RAF aircraft including electronic warfare training provided by BAE Hawk trainers.
Update: Some changes occurred since the selection announcement. QinetiQ has teamed with the Cobham led team to pursue the ASDOT program, and, in October 2018 announced the acquisition of Inzpire Group, a provider of operational training and mission systems that was a team played in the Leonardo ASDOT team.