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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]