|FARNBOROUGH 2016: TEXTRON LAUNCHES AIR TRAINING BUSINESS
Peter Felstead, Farnborough
July 12, 2016
US company Textron launched a new division on 8 July focused on developing a live air training business.
Called Textron Airborne Solutions, the new entity will build on the capabilities of Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), which was acquired earlier this year by Textron and which has already provided more than 44,000 training flight hours to the US military over the past 20 years.
"There's a ton of work with the US government in providing fourth-generation adversary support," Russ Bartlett, CEO of Textron Airborne Solutions, told IHS Jane's at Farnborough on 11 July, adding that, although relatively young as a concept, the commercial provision of air training is becoming accepted and stands to grow to four to five times where it is now.
Most immediately, both the US Navy and US Air Force have each currently initiated tenders for 3,000 hours-worth of fourth-generation adversary training, with requests for proposals expected either late this year or early next year. The new Textron business is addressing these requirements as well as "three or four other major opportunities", according to Bartlett.
Jeffrey Parker, the co-founder and CEO of ATAC, told IHS Jane's that overseas deployments and sequestration have had a detrimental effect on the amount of adversarial air training flown by the US services, with the true requirement of the US Navy, for example, being at a level more like 13,000-14,000 flight hours. Noting that 6,000 hours is the notional life of the navy's Boeing Super Hornets, Parker explained that keeping the US military's frontline combat aircraft out of the provision of adversarial training is an obvious way to preserve their flight hours and thus save money.
There is also clear value in using aircraft that are dissimilar to the training force's own aircraft types. ATAC currently has a fleet of 26 fighters for adversarial air training: 16 Hawker Hunters, six IAI Kfirs, and four Aero L-39 Albatros aircraft.