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ASDOT gains pace

17th July 2017 - 13:24 by Trevor Nash in RAF Fairford

ASDOT gains pace

The UK’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) requirement has been ratcheted up following the declaration that Cobham Special Missions had signed a teaming agreement with Draken International to pursue this high-profile UK MoD programme.

Cobham already provides EW threat simulation to the UK MoD through its fleet of Falcon 20 aircraft while Draken has a fast-jet adversary fleet used predominantly by the US DoD.

ASDOT seeks to replace Cobham’s threat simulation as well as the Hawk adversary support currently provided by 736 NAS out of RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall.

Draken is already teamed with Babcock and CAE on the ASDOT programme following their announcement during RIAT 2016. As well as these two teams, other declared players include Inzpire and Discovery Air Defence and a fourth team that comprises Thales, QinetiQ and Textron Air Land.

The status of Hawker Hunter Aviation in the ASDOT bid process, a CAA and UK MoD approved company providing aerial threat simulation and mission support training company, is unclear. In 2016 they unveiled one of their aircraft fitted with an IAI RAIDS ACMI pod that was specifically aimed at the ASDOT requirement.

At last month’s Paris Air Show, Leonardo told Shephard that they would be offering their M-346 aircraft for the requirement but as yet, no official announcement has been forthcoming. One industry insider has indicated that Leonardo’s partner for the bid was Airbus Defence and Space, although this has not been confirmed by Leonardo.

As to programme milestones, the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) ASDOT project team is expected to issue a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) by the end of September. This is expected to lead to a down-select of three or possibly four consortia by the end of March 2018.

These consortia will be issued with an invitation to negotiate with a contract award expected in mid-2019. An initial operating capability is set for January 2020 and a full operating capability six months later.

With the Hawk T1 aircraft operated by the RAF’s 100 Squadron being retired in 2027, this capability will then become the responsibility of the eventual ASDOT winner.

Dan Simmons, head of Inzpire’s fixed wing division, told Shephard that the MoD was 'taking a very methodical approach to ASDOT and the communication between industry and DE&S is benefiting both sides’.

Valued at around £750 million, ASDOT is a major programme and once awarded, will be a valuable prize for the winning consortium. The question is, how many more bidders will emerge?

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