The Multirole Aviation Training Vessel (MATV) MV Sycamore will be ready to train the first students under the Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) as scheduled despite a “misalignment” of project schedules at the time of HATS contract signature, Defence has confirmed.
The MATV, which is being procured separately from HATS to support a range of training activities, including initial helicopter deck landing qualifications, is due to sail to Australia in May, having been launched in Vietnam in August 2016. The 94-metre-long vessel is expected to be available to support EC135 T2+ flying operations in the fourth quarter of this year.
“MV Sycamore will be available to support HATS first-of-class flight trials and, if required, instructor training in the later part of 2017; it will also be available to train the first HATS students in 2018 as scheduled,” a Defence spokesperson told Australian Defence Business Review.
Defence stated that the Commonwealth and HATS prime contractor Boeing Defence Australia have worked to realign development activities for the JP 9000 Phase 7 project to match MATV availability.
The spokesperson said the schedule for delivery of the MATV, which is being delivered by Serco, was set in September 2013 and has not changed; in fact, the vessel is expected to be delivered early against its contracted date. Acquisition and support contracts for HATS were signed in November 2014.
“The [JP 9000 Phase 7] project is managing one high-level issue and monitoring one high-level risk,” the 2015-16 Major Projects Report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) stated.
“The high-level issue is that delivery by Navy of the Multirole Aviation Training Vessel (MATV) is going to be delayed, leading to an inability of the Commonwealth to meet contracted availability requirements. This issue is being managed through early disclosure to the contractor and re-planning trial activities to accommodate the delay.
“The high-level risk being monitored is consequential to the above in that the contractor will not be able to provide a number of deliverables that rely on the MATV being available. This risk will eventuate if the re-planning is not able to accommodate the delay.”
The spokesperson for Defence explained: “The ANAO report identified that the MATV may not be available in accordance with the HATS contract schedule; this was due to a misalignment of the HATS and MATV schedules at HATS contract signature.”
Besides initial helicopter deck landing qualifications, Sycamore is being acquired to support other training activities such as at-sea familiarisation training, practice weapon recovery and navigation training, and limited fleet support duties.
The EC135 will only be qualified with the MATV, but the vessel will also be capable of operating the MRH90 and the MH-60R, and first-of-class flight trials for these helicopter types are scheduled for early 2018.