MoD opts for German aircraft

A German aircraft is to be the RAF’s new elementary training vehicle, a choice that could cost 150 jobs at the UK firm which failed to win the £20m contract. The Ministry of Defence last week chose the German Grob 115D rather than the North Yorkshire-built Slingsby T67M, rejecting the Department of Trade and Industry’s […]

A German aircraft is to be the RAF’s new elementary training vehicle, a choice that could cost 150 jobs at the UK firm which failed to win the £20m contract.

The Ministry of Defence last week chose the German Grob 115D rather than the North Yorkshire-built Slingsby T67M, rejecting the Department of Trade and Industry’s argument that jobs would be lost by buying German.

Two UK firms Bombardier Services and FR/ Serco had tendered to provide the RAF with 50,000 flying training hours a year plus support. Both offered the choice of the Grob or Slingsby piston-engined aircraft.

Bombardier was awarded the Private Finance Initiative contract.

While the aircraft alone will be worth about £20m, the value of the total contract has not been revealed.

Defence minister John Reid said following the PFI route would save the MoD £30m over the contract’s 10-year lifespan, compared with the cost of running the RAF’s current Bulldog trainer aircraft.

The Grobs will replace about 100 Bulldogs flown by the University Air Squad-rons, which provide initial training and flying experience at undergraduate level.

Five Grob aircraft are already flying with a naval basic training unit in Plymouth, and Grob gliders are used by all the armed services.

Some 255 aircraft in the Slingsby Firefly family have been built, including US Air Force T67s.

Slingsby Aviation is based in Kirbymoorside.