France has signed a 22-year contract with private companies to provide flight training hours to military pilots at its army’s helicopter flight school at Dax.
The deal marks the first of what are called first public-private partnerships with France’s defense agencies.
Defense Minister Hervé Morin cleared the pact with Defense Conseil International and Proteus Helicopters, according to the defense procurement agency Délégation Général pour l’Armement (DGA). Proteus will provide maintenance support of the training fleet.
The contract is said to be worth 22 million euros ($32 million) a year, assuming training is conducted at a pace of 22,000 flight hours a year.
The government will only have to pay for flight hours after the first Eurocopter EC120s are delivered to the school at Dax, in southwest France. That is to take place in 2010. The school will continue to use military flight instructors.
The government has the option to buy the helicopters at the end of the contract. The defense ministry plans to make greater use of public-private arrangements in an effort to cut spending on support functions and focus on front-line operations.