Leonardo (Stand S5-110, static SG14) has joined the Inzpire/ Discovery Air Defence team to pitch an aggressor trainer for the UK Ministry of Defence’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme.
Announcing the Leonardo participation in the programme at DSEI, the team is now preparing for the release of a prequalification questionnaire (PQQ) from the MoD later in September, which will provide more information on what the specific requirements are likely to be.
Discovery Air Defence has access to a number of different aircraft types, but it is as of yet undecided which one will be selected for the team’s ASDOT pitch. It could range from Leonardo’s own M-346 (pictured) to third-party examples such as the Saab Gripen or Lockheed Martin F-16.
‘‘At the moment we’re staying quite agnostic on that,’’ said Stewart Miller, senior vice-president of Support and Service Solutions UK at Leonardo, adding that the PQQ will help to determine which aircraft to pitch, as well as helping the three companies to decide which one will take the lead as prime contractor for the programme. This is likely to be Leonardo, however, given its experience as a service provider and in supplying avionics, EW systems and radar for fighter aircraft in the UK.
Stewart noted that the company had been looking at ASDOT as an opportunity for a number of years, and has been talking to the Inzpire/Discovery Air Defence team for some time. He also added that discussions have been held regarding the potential to participate in other similar aggressor trainer requirements elsewhere in the world.
ASDOT is expected to result in a selection by 2019. Other companies pitching for it include Textron AirLand/ ATAC/Qinetiq/Thales and CAE/Draken/Babcock teams, although a July announcement that Draken was teaming with Cobham for the requirement has raised questions surrounding the current position of the latter.
The Italian air force uses the M-346 − dubbed T-346A in Italian service − for aggressor training. Based with the 61st Air Wing at Grosseto air base, the aircraft is used as an aggressor against the Eurofighter Typhoons that base their training at the site.