British Ministry of Defence Scraps ASDOT Airborne Training Program

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has moved to scrap entirely its GBP1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) project to provide its military pilots with air combat training through a private contractor.

The program referred to as Air Support to Defense Operational Training (ASDOT) has been canceled in an effort to reassess the requirement – a move that comes as the timetable for picking a winning bid and awarding a contract had been slated for late 2018, with the 10-year program to then kick off in January 2020.  That contract would have also included an option to extend the program out an additional five years.

The British MoD issued an Invitation to Negotiation to industry in August 2018, receiving submissions from teams led by Babcock Aerospace, Cobham Aviation Services, Leonardo, and Thales UK.  However, the selection process continued to be delayed, pushing back operational timetables and forcing the cash-strapped MoD to rethink its plan.

The project would have seen pilots from across the British military receive training – most likely against aircraft types not in U.K operational inventories – in air-to-air combat, air-to-surface combat, joint terminal attack, electronic warfare, ground-based air defense and aerospace battle management, and live gunnery scenarios.  The provision of contractor-owned and contractor-operated (COCO) aircraft would progressively replace existing contractor- and military-provided training services as they wrapped up.

Instead the MoD is going back to the drawing board to find an appropriate solution as carrier-borne air strike operations are scheduled to achieve Initial Operational Capability with the HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2020, followed by first operational deployment in 2021.  Therefore, time is of the essence.


About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is Forecast International’s director of military and defense markets. In this role, Dan oversees a team of analysts tasked with covering everything from budgeting to weapons systems to defense electronics and military aerospace. Additionally, for over 17 years Dan has, at various times, authored the International Military Markets reports for Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Dan's work has been cited in Defense News, Real Clear Defense, Asian Military Review, Al Jazeera, and Financial Express, among others, and he has also contributed commentary to The Diplomat, The National Interest and World Politics Review. He has been quoted in Arabian Business, the Financial Times, Flight International, The New York Times, Bloomberg and National Defense Magazine. In addition, Dan has made guest appearances on the online radio show Midrats and on The Media Line, as well as The Red Line Podcast, plus media appearances on France 24 and World Is One News (WION).

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