Many of the companies at this year’s RIAT will be contending for the 15-year Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) contract worth around £1.2 billion. It will replace the current Electronic Warfare (EW) training contract run by Cobham operating Dassault 20s as well as the services of the Royal Navy’s 736 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and its HAWK T1As on 1 January 2020. Eventually it will replace the requirement fulfilled by 100(R) Sqn and its HAWK T1As at RAF Leeming too.
ASDOT will seek to address the complex range of airborne threats posed by the UK’s potential adversaries. The UK MOD told MONS: “ASDOT is more than a ‘Red Air’ provision and will also need to provide ‘Blue’ capabilities for Air Battlespace Manager/Fighter Controller and Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training, together with a range of Electronic Warfare and Threat Simulation capabilities for training and operational assurance activities.”
Several companies positioning themselves for a bid were present, including Inzpire and Discovery Air Defence Services (DADS), which operates 16 ALPHAJETs, seven A-4Ns (in Germany), two TA-4Js, two IAI 1123 WESTWINDs for special missions.
DADS was planning to bring an A-4M SKYHAWK to RIAT but due to operational commitments on the Friday and Monday in Germany, it could not come.
Texton brought along its one-of-a kind SCORPION ISR/Strike aircraft, which was parked in one of the prime spots at the event. Textron Airland bought Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) last year which flies 16 ex-Swiss Air Force HUNTERs, six ex Israeli Air Force KFIRs and four Aero Vodochody L-39ZAs. Also working with Textron in a consortium is Thales and QinetiQ.
A third teaming arrangement includes Draken International, which has at least 14 of 21 L-159s recently acquired from Aero Vodochody as well as former Israeli and New Zealand A-4s, MB339s and L-39s plus ex-Polish Air Force MiG-21s. It will be working with CAE and Babcock, while Cobham announced on 14 July, it had signed a teaming agreement with Draken.
Peter Nottage, CEO and President of Cobham Aviation Services said: “Our work to advance existing in-house synthetic threat training technology development continues and when combined with our unparalleled electronic warfare training expertise, and Draken we will deliver an ASDOT solution which will provide the most advanced training environment in order to ensure military personnel and equipment are correctly prepared to conduct operations globally and with enhanced mission success.”
Positioned inside the chalet area, was a Leonardo M346FA. While the executives at Leonardo will not say they are bidding with the small jet, the board in front said it all: “The M346FA is ideally suited to the UK’s ASDOT requirement, offering high-end ‘aggressor’ performance cost effectively.”
Companies like Leonardo, Elbit Systems, KBR, Saab and BAE Systems, which were also at RIAT have not yet shown their hand but are likely to be involved at the PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire) stage later this year. It will demonstrate to the UK, the capability to be invited to bid. It is hotting up to be one of the biggest competitions the UK has ever held in recent years.