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Next-Gen Aircrew Training - Skies Magazine


Army.ca Myth
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Skies Mag seems to have had a blitz of RCAF articles - first the fighter procurement article, then the feature on the CAOC, now this:

Rarely in the life of a large, complex military program do you get the opportunity to reshape it from the ground up. But with two pilot training contracts coming to an end in the mid-2020s, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is taking advantage of the moment to “reimagine how we are doing training,” said Col Pete Saunders, director of Air Simulation and Training.

RCAF pilots obtain their wings through two contracted training services, Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) and NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC), delivered from two schools in Manitoba and Saskatchewan: 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (3 CFFTS) at the Southport Aerospace Centre in Portage la Prairie and 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (2 CFFTS) at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

CFTS, delivered by Allied Wings and led by KF Aerospace, ends in 2027 while NFTC, provided by CAE Military Aviation Training, runs until December 2023, with the option for a one-year extension–the program was recently extended from 2021.

At same time, the RCAF would like to transition in-house training of its air combat systems officers (ACSO) and airborne electronic sensor operators (AESOp) to the same program as pilot training, a move partially driven by the end of service life of their primary training platform, the Dash-8 “Gonzo” in 2028.

“There are things we have done really well, things we probably wouldn’t do that way again, so this is an opportunity to re-baseline everything,” said Saunders.

By concentrating all aircrew training under one program, the RCAF is requesting one of the more comprehensive and ambitious industry-managed programs worldwide, from courseware and training devices to aircraft and maintenance, instructors and facilities management.

The Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) program hasn’t yet released an official price tag, but with NFTC worth about $3.8 billion over 25 years and CFTS valued at $1.8 billion over 22 years, the eventual contract could exceed $10 billion over 20 plus years.

More than 80 companies initially expressed interest in the program and five have been down-selected to offer bids when a request for proposals is released in early 2020: Airbus Defence and Space, Babcock Canada, Leonardo Canada, Lockheed Martin Canada, and SkyAlyne Canada, a joint venture between the two incumbents, CAE and KF Aerospace. A sixth qualified bidder, BAE Systems, withdrew in April.

What they will be asked to bid on boils down to a single word: Output. In presentations to industry over the past two years, Saunders has stressed, “it is not an aircraft acquisition program, it is a training service, [and] what we are contracting for is output. How a successful supplier gets there, I am not that fussed. What I care about is the output.”

And that is a straightforward demand: 120 pilots, 40 ACSOs and 36 AESOps, plus or minus 15 per cent, to a defined standard every year. The flexibility to ramp up or down is intended to deal with shortages–the RCAF is at about 82.6 per cent of manning or around 275 pilots short at the moment–the introduction of new fleets like remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), and the transition from legacy to new airframes when throughput may not be as high.

The numbers are based on demographic shifts and forecasted attrition rates, a “sweet spot” that acknowledges the fact the newer generations may be less likely to enroll for a 25-year career, he said.

The Air Force also wants a program adaptable to technological change as both training systems and teaching methodologies evolve. “Our existing programs are delivering exactly what we are asking for, but they don’t have that flexibility baked into them, which then handcuffs the contractor who would love to do things slightly differently, but it comes at a certain cost,” said Saunders.

[More at link]

I'm not sure it is flattering for the RCAF to have to contract military aircrew training to civilian companies.  I'd like to see how the numbers crunch if the RCAF uses the same funding and creates it's own FAcT TE/Sqn.  :2c:

I'm a little hesitant to lean too much on civilian contracting and contractors, without seeing some indication that the RCAF will retain 'final say' on all things that are important.  Historically, I am not confident in the way Canada does contracts. 

what we are contracting for is output. How a successful supplier gets there, I am not that fussed. What I care about is the output.

That's not a statement I get a comfortable feeling from.  I certainly care "how a supplier gets there".  36 AES Ops/year isn't enough (and won't be if the rumoured demands for more operators happens...) and if they are only half-trained or indoctrinated when they hit OTUs, that isn't ideal. 

Again, just my initial  :2c:.  I'd prefer to see the RCAF be it's own supplier.

Eye In The Sky said:
...I'd prefer to see the RCAF be it's own supplier.

That ship pretty much sailed in the mid-90s with FRP and ASD. :nod:  It would probably take 20+ years to recreate with any representation of what we used to have.



And the RCAF leadership has let the contractor mafia run with minimal oversight.  Engaged leadership would have mitigated some of the current problems.
Meanwhile chez USAF:
ACC Aims to Cut Pilot Training Time By Up to Half

The Air Force will test a new fighter pilot training plan designed to fix deficiencies and reduce the time needed to transform a raw student pilot into a fighter flight lead from 40 to as few as 22 months.

The new concept of operations exploits the in-jet simulation capability of the new T-7 Red Hawk, paired with ground-based virtual reality and artificial intelligence to accelerate student progress.

Called “Rebuilding the Forge,” or “Reforge” for short, the new CONOPS was signed on June 2 by Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command. If tests are successful, it will lead to the most radical transformation of USAF fighter pilot training since the 1950s, according to its authors. The switch to dual-track, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training in the 1980s was a far less dramatic restructure, they said.

The new system could potentially reduce the time it takes for a student to go from starting SUPT to combat-ready fighter pilot in as little as 18 months in the future [emphasis added].

In addition to fixing deficiencies in the existing syllabus tied to the inadequacy of the 60-year-old T-38, the new system will free up flight hours on frontline aircraft, making those hours available for real-world operations. The CONOPS leverages new virtual reality and simulation technology, as well as in-flight simulation capabilities built into the new T-7 Red Hawk advanced trainer. Boeing is both building that aircraft and developing courseware and simulators.

Once proven, the new CONOPS could mean acquiring additional T-7s from Boeing. The existing contract provides options for up to 100 more than the 341 called for in the deal. The T-7s needed for Reforge could be different than those built for undergraduate pilot training, and might warrant a different designation, such as TF-7, which could demand a separate engineering and manufacturing development program [emphasis added--looks like real winner for Boeing/Saab--how many exports, also perhaps as light attack plane? "Boeing believes there is a global market for 2,600 T-7s, both as trainers and light-attack or aggressor aircraft https://www.flightglobal.com/singapore-air-show-2020/boeing-markets-t-7-trainer-in-asia-as-it-eyes-first-export-deal/136697.article].

Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training now takes about 12 months. After that, fighter-bound pilots go to the Fighter Fundamentals course, flying the T-38, and then on to a Formal Training Unit in their particular fighter. The whole journey lasts about 40 months before the pilot reaches fighter qualification, including change-of-station moves and refreshers. The new CONOPS implements an Initial Tactical Training Course (ITT) that merges the latter two phases and slices about a year off the program. 

ITT graduates “will only need half the time necessary” to qualify in their intended fighter, according to the ACC document. They will arrive at their Formal Training Unit “with a higher level of tactical skills,” sharply reducing what the FTU must teach in expensive, high-end fighters... 


And RAAF, now formal timeline yet it seems:

Canberra kicks off search for new advanced jet trainer

Canberra has commenced the search for a new advanced jet trainer to replace BAE Systems Hawk 127s operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

A request for information (RFI) for the Air 6002 Phase 1 requirement was issued on 1 June, says the Australian Department of Defence.

“Defence is yet to fully define the requirements for Air 6002 Phase 1 Future Lead-in Fighter Training System,” it says.

“However, aircraft performance and aircraft mission systems that bridge between the pilot training system and fast jet conversion courses will be critical requirements. The Future Lead-in Fighter Training System will be expected to remain relevant to its role in training fast jet aircrew and supporting joint force training, to be adaptable to those needs as they evolve, to be affordable, and to be safe out to an indicative timeframe of 2050.”

Of major trainer manufacturers, BAE, Boeing and Leonardo all say they are interested in the requirement.

BAE is upbeat about the prospects for its long-running platform. “The Hawk is the world’s most successful and proven military aircraft trainer, built on more than 35 years of experience training pilots for the world’s leading air forces. For more than 20 years, we have worked in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force to ensure it has the pilots it requires… and we believe Hawk is the proven solution to continue this partnership.”

Boeing plans to pitch its developmental T-7A Red Hawk, having briefed on the jet at the Avalon Airshow in February 2019. “[The] T-7A Red Hawk is an all-new advanced pilot training system designed for the US Air Force training mission, with the flexibility to evolve as technologies, missions and training needs change. It includes trainer aircraft, ground-based training and support – designed together from the start.”

Leonardo says it will offer the M-346, which it claims is the ideal platform for training future pilots of the Lockheed Martin F-35. It notes that the M-346 is operated by Israel, Italy, Poland and Singapore, all of which are current or prospective operators of the Joint Strike Fighter.

“The M-346 training system is cost-effective and state-of-the-art, with the reliability of a fully developed programme, representing a competitive and no-risk solution compared with the alternatives,” says Leonardo.

Korea Aerospace Industries, which produces the T-50 advanced jet trainer, tells FlightGlobal that it is reviewing the RFI.

Cirium fleets data shows that the RAAF operates 33 Hawk 127s [emphasis added].