The National Audit Office (NAO) have said that the £3.2bn programme awarded to the Ascent Consortium (which includes US aviation giant Lockheed Martin who are building the controversial F-35B Lightning II strike fighter for the RAF and Navy) will not be running at full capacity until at least 2019. When the MoD awarded the contract to Ascent the consortium promised to have its program in place by 2014 to start training fast-jet pilots for the RAF and helicopter pilots for all three services. The delay therefore affects the entire spectrum of British military aviation.
The NAO criticised the MoD’s awarding of the contract to Ascent and went on to state that the MoD needed;
[to] understand better actual training performance and what affects performance before it can secure significant improvements from Ascent…Otherwise, there is a real risk that moving to the new training will affect the military’s ability to train the right number of aircrew at the right time.
The UK’s minister for defence procurement, Philip Dunne responded with;
The programme had a difficult start after initial contracts were let under a PFI contract in 2008. We are now on a much firmer footing and moving forward to deliver flight training for aircrew, more rapidly and efficiently, with greater flexibility to adapt to new platforms.