C4iSR: Air

UK cancels ASDOT aggressor programme

19 March 2019

A Douglas A-4N Skyhawk jet belonging to Top Aces (formerly Discovery Air). The ‘red air’ provider was part of the Leonardo bid for the now cancelled ASDOT training programme for the UK. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

The UK has cancelled its effort to provide air combat training for its pilots using private contractors, with a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson telling Jane's that it is re-examining its options.

The decision to cancel the Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) project, which was first reported by the Telegraph and confirmed to Jane's on 20 March, comes about six months after a contract was due to be awarded and less than 12 months before the programme was set to begin.

"We received a number of industry proposals in response to the Air Support to Defence Operational Training Invitation to Negotiation. We will now re-assess the parameters for the programme," the MoD told Jane's .

The ASDOT programme was meant to cover the provision of contractor-owned and operated (COCO) aircraft to meet MoD training requirements for air-to-air combat; air-to-surface combat; Joint Terminal Attack Controller/Forward Air Controller (Airborne); electronic warfare (EW); air traffic control, ground-based air defence, and airspace battle management; and live gunnery. It was a tri-service effort involving the Royal Air Force (RAF), Fleet Air Arm (FAA), and Army Air Corps (AAC).

In terms of industry proposals, the MoD had received submissions from teams led by Babcock Aerospace, Cobham Aviation Services, Leonardo, and Thales UK. An initial 10-year contract valued at about USD1.5 billion was expected in September 2018, with the programme set to formally begin in January 2020. Jane's understands that the effort has been cancelled as all of the bids exceeded the estimates for the programme.

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