UK to boost capacity of Texan T1 fleet with extra aircraft

Affinity Flying Training Services has received a contract – worth approximately £65m – from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) for the operation of four additional Beechcraft T-6C Texan IIs under the UK Military Flying Training System (UK MFTS) programme.

The recently awarded contract was announced by Affinity on November 8 and follows the acquisition of four additional T-6Cs from Textron Aviation Defense, which have been kept in a state of readiness since they arrived at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales, on October 30, 2020.

T-6C Texan T1 in-flight 08-08-19 [MOD Crown Copyright/Cpl Tim Laurence]
The four additional Beechcraft T-6C Texan T1s will grow the UK's fleet to 14 aircraft and enhance the number of training and flight hours available for the UK MFTS programme. MOD Crown Copyright/Cpl Tim Laurence

These aircraft will be predominately employed from the company’s facility at RAF Valley, where they will join the ten existing Texans that are already in operation. Known as the Texan T1 in UK service, the fleet is used to support the training of future fast-jet pilots, who are going through the Basic Flying Training (BFT) phase of the UK MFTS syllabus with the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) No 72 Squadron. The Texan T1 officially replaced the RAF’s matured Short Tucano T1 fleet in this role on October 31, 2019.

Affinity states that the operation of four more Texans “will provide increased training support and an uplift in training and flight hours for the UK MFTS programme.” It adds that the fleet is scheduled to reach full operational capability (FOC) by 2024.

The company adds that the uplift provided by this latest contract will also cover the employment of approximately 30 more staff members, boost the local economy and support the development of skills in the near-region. It will also allow Affinity to enhance its delivery capacity through upgrades to key facilities.

Iain Chalmers, managing director of Affinity, said: “I am delighted that we are able to make a further contribution to the UK MFTS programme. This has been a fully collaborative effort with the UK MOD, Textron Aviation Defense and Ascent Flight Training.

“We, our colleagues in Textron and our UK partners in MFTS remain committed to supporting and delivering an excellent training system for the UK MOD, while also providing opportunities for future innovation in training delivery in line with the RAF’s Astra campaign to build the next generation of pilots,” he added.