The UK Ministry of Defence announced a £90 million investment into a helicopter simulation center for Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots. The deal will sustain 70 jobs at the Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility based at RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire.

“The importance of effective synthetic training cannot be underestimated and continues to play an increasingly important role in our overall training curriculum,” said Adrian Baguley, director of air support at the MOD Defence, Equipment and Support.

Part of the investment includes a contract amendment between Defence, Equipment and Support, the MOD procurement organization, and CAE Aircrew Training Services. The simulation company will now deliver training for Chinook, Puma and Merlin aircrews at the facility, extended CAE’s contract by eight years.

The contract will deliver training for the Chinook and Puma aircrews until the Puma out-of-service date. Merlin Mk3 training will continue for at least two more years as the Royal Navy transitions to the Mk4 helicopter.

The Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility has consistently delivered a high standard of quality training to the operators of our front-line helicopter capabilities. This agreement continues to maintain the world-leading ground school and simulator training facility for our helicopter aircrews,” said Baguley.

There are already six CAE-built simulators in the center; three Chinook, two Merlin and one Puma. They sit alongside four computer-based ground school classrooms and a Tactical Control Center for operational mission training.