The MOD’s UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) has signed a £183 million contract to boost training services for new Rotary Wing pilots.

The contract amendment includes an uplift of four new Airbus H145 helicopters and a state-of-the-art simulator and infrastructure improvements. There is also support in attracting and training personnel to meet the increased helicopter demand from the frontline.

The new H145 helicopters and simulator will enable students to learn how to fly a range of missions. These will cover expected scenarios on operational deployment. In addition, the H145s enable students to practice winching tasks and rear crew activities.

"These crucial upgrades will help our students become the finest helicopter pilots in the world," Defence Minister James Heappey said.

UKMFTS - part of Defence, Equipment & Support (DE&S) - and Ascent Flight Training Management Ltd, which delivers pilot training for the UKMFTS in a partnering arrangement, signed the Rotary Wing contract amendment.

It is part of a wider programme to increase training capacity for UK military pilots overall; the £3.2 billion UKMFTS programme helps address the pilot training demand identified in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

RAF Shawbury, Shropshire will house the four new H145 helicopters and simulator. The infrastructure improvements will cater for the increased student numbers.

"The new twin-engine Airbus H145s will enhance the current mix of H135 and H145s that are used on UKMFTS," said Commodore Tom Manson, UKMFTS Head, Defence Equipment & Support.

"(It will provide) increased flexibility to deliver the range of training required for both pilots and air crewmen."

The H145 family (BK117, EC145 and H145) is a well-proven training aircraft. There are more than 1,300 helicopters in service globally which have clocked more than 5.5 million flight hours.