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Built under a £53 million (€59.8 million) contract with Lockheed Martin UK, Rotary and Mission Systems, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has now declared its new CHINOOK Mk 6 synthetic training facility at RAF Odiham ready for training.

The purpose-built facility replicates real-life operations for CHINOOK Mk 6 crews, using advanced current technologies to help train the Chinook Force, a key component of Britain’s Joint Helicopter Command.

The state-of-the-art technology includes two flight deck device simulators, a rear crew device and a suite of computer-based training equipment. It will train crews on how to work together in specific flying, emergency and mission capabilities of the CHINOOK Mk6 aircraft, such as relocating troops and equipment around the battlefield or evacuating citizens from dangerous conditions in domestic and overseas environments.

The Chinook Force has continuously proven itself by supporting humanitarian efforts, strengthening counter-terror operations and providing essential support to our armed forces. Our ability to put it to use will be bolstered by this multi-million-pound new training facility. CHINOOKs are the backbone of our battlefield helicopter capability, so it’s crucial this capability and its crews are receiving this support into the next decade,” commented Defence Minister Mark Lancaster as the facility was officially opened on 21 November.

This highly realistic and immersive environment allows aircrew to undertake high-risk training operations, such as a battlefield re-supply or a medical evacuation in an urban area, from the safety of a simulator. The augmented reality technology will help CHINOOK crews rehearse missions as a whole-crew synthetic environment for the first time in the 40-year history of the UK Chinook Force. It will also help CHINOOK pilots refine their aircraft handling skills in a range of emergency scenarios, including rotor blade damage, turbulence caused by adjacent aircraft, complex electrical emergencies and fuel management hazards.

The CHINOOK Mk 6 Synthetic Training System will deliver around 4,000 simulator hours each year for a period of ten years. ensuring crews are at a permanent state of readiness to deploy. The CHINOOK is the UK’s only military heavy-lift helicopter and can transport up to 54 troops or 10t of supplies in support of operations. While similar to the Mk 4 helicopters, the Mk 6 have differences to the operating systems, avionics display and flight control systems, which require a new and specific training service.

DE&S is proud to be providing this new state-of-the-art chinook training facility for the Chinook Force that draws on cutting edge technology, including Augmented Reality, to give the whole of our CHINOOK crews a new immersive synthetic training capability. This new world-class facility will enable the crews to prepare for missions across the globe,” observed Director Air Support at Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), Adrian Baguley.

The new facility includes a rear crew training device that will help train loadmasters and gunners in a wide range of mission activities. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

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