A £90m investment in a helicopter simulation centre has been announced by the Ministry of Defence. The centre will train pilots for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
The simulators at the centre will allow pilots to practice tricky manoeuvres, flying under enemy fire as well as experience other adverse conditions such as blizzards, power failures and cyberattacks. While the headline figure seems high, simulators are a lot cheaper and obviously a lot safer than allowing novice pilots to conduct such tests in a live aircraft.
At the centre there are six simulators, built by supplier CAE Systems, as well as classrooms and a tactical control centre. This will secure employment for 70 people at RAF Benson at South Oxfordshire where the centre is located.
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin commented “As we saw in the wake of devastation in the Caribbean just this Summer, our helicopter crews provide life-saving relief across the globe as well as defending the UK. This £90 million investment will see these cutting-edge simulators train our pilots right through until 2025, ensuring they are ready to deploy on missions all over the world.
Adrian Baguley, Director Air Support at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support, said:
"The importance of effective synthetic training cannot be underestimated and continues to play an increasingly important role in our overall training curriculum.
"The Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility has consistently delivered a high standard of quality training to the operators of our front line helicopter capabilities. This agreement continues to maintain the world-leading ground school and simulator training facility for our helicopter aircrews."