QinetiQ has added three new helicopters to its fleet at MOD Boscombe Down, adding capacity and the latest industry-leading capabilities.

The latest multi-million pound investment will further extend the fleet of aircraft available to the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) and trials customers and give pilots, engineers and aircrew access to the most advanced and systems-rich helicopters of any test pilot school.

The new aircraft comprise two Agusta A109S Grand helicopters and a Leonardo AW139 helicopter fitted with an integrated Electro-Optical and Infra-Red (EO/IR) camera turret and a modern, complex avionics suite. Every airframe in the QinetiQ fleet based at MOD Boscombe Down will also benefit from additional enhancements including comprehensive Flight Test Instrumentation suites. Initial operating capability is due to be achieved this summer.

Expansion takes investment to more than £100m

The latest expansion to the QinetiQ fleet takes the investment in new training, test and evaluation capabilities to more than £100 million over the past three years and will provide unprecedented operational capacity and service capabilities for QinetiQ’s customers training at ETPS or in delivery of test and evaluation projects.

The advanced Test and Evaluation capabilities will be of particular value to customers from both the military and civil sectors. They will also offer considerable benefits for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and form a key part of QinetiQ’s one stop shop for Aviation Special Mission Services through the Aircraft Engineering Centre (AEC) and the QinetiQ Civil Flying Organisation (QCFO) capabilities.

Simon Tate OBE, QinetiQ’s Director of Operations Air and Space said: “Staying ahead of the curve is absolutely vital in the challenging world of Test and Evaluation – both here in the UK and on the international stage.”

“This substantial new investment will ensure we do just that. And it will provide all ETPS customers and students with the additional assurance that comes from using the very best learning resources available. We are now also in a position to provide a complete Test and Evaluation solution for customers by providing aircraft, design, production, installation, test and evaluation training as well as ongoing flight operations for any Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission. That all amounts to a very significant service and capability advantage for mission-led innovation and operational agility.”

ETPS trains more than 1,500 students from 32 different countries

As the world’s first test pilot school, ETPS has trained over 1,500 students from more than 32 different countries over the past 75 years. Building on its heritage as the premier school for military flight test professionals, it is now also providing dedicated and fully accredited courses for civilian customers. QinetiQ works with the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) under the Long Term Partnering Agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to deliver ETPS. All courses at ETPS comply with EASA regulations and it one of only three flight test schools in the world – and the first in the UK – to be recognised as an EASA Approved Training Organisation.

The latest investment is part of the wider £16.5 billion modernisation efforts that the MOD and UK defence industry are undertaking to provide our armed forces with the latest technologies for training and deployment. The new helicopters form part of QinetiQ’s wider offering of special missions training, such as reconnaissance and surveillance operations.

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