Singapore’s choice of an advanced jet training system is due next month and could be crucial to the future export prospects of Italy’s M-346 Master and Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle. These dissimilar training jets have been bid here by rival prime contractors, ST Aero and Lockheed Martin, respectively.
Potential bidders for a 75-aircraft Indian air force basic trainer requirement met this week for a pre-bid conference. India has issued a dozen manufacturers a request for proposals, with responses due by March 17. Delivery of the first 12 aircraft is expected within two years of a contract award, ruling out anything other than an off-the-shelf purchase.
Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 Master advanced trainer is here in Singapore to compete against the KAI T-50 Golden Eagle for the republic’s air force jet trainer requirement. The M-346 has been developed by the Italian company from the Russian Yak-130 design to offer state-of-the-art training capabilities, enabling student pilots to graduate near-seamlessly to the latest frontline equipment.
Finland’s Patria has chosen Esterline CMC Electronics (CMC) to perform a glass-cockpit upgrade for the Finnish Air Force’s BAE Systems Hawk Mk66 advanced jet trainers. The air force purchased the 18 ex-Swiss Air Force Hawk Mk66s in 2007 to add to its fleet of Hawk Mk51s.
When Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) developed the T-50 Golden Eagle in partnership with Lockheed Martin in 2001 hopes were high in South Korea that the only supersonic trainer jet would become a hit around the world. Nine years later, industry opinion remains divided as to whether this potential will be fulfilled and what has actually been achieved to this end since KAI entered a joint marketing effort with Lockheed Martin in 2006.
In a hopeful sign, Pilatus said it will return to full work schedules by February 1. The company reduced working hours at its main plant in Switzerland in September, mainly for aircraft production staff, because of a lower order intake for the PC-12NG turboprop single. Overall, working hours were reduced by 13 percent, although there were no layoffs.
Following the selection in February of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master for its advanced trainer and light combat aircraft needs, the United Arab Emirates air force and air defense (AFAD) is focused on its basic trainer requirement to replace the current Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainers. The competitors are the jet-powered Alenia Aermacchi M-311 and the turboprop Pilatus PC-21.
In late September the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) became the latest customer for the Hawker Beechcraft T-6 Texan II trainer and the first for the weapons-capable T-6C. The $37 million Foreign Military Sales contract covers the first installment of a planned 24-aircraft purchase that was first notified to the U.S. Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in late 2007.
In late July the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command issued a request for information for what it calls the light attack/armed reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft. The RFI covers the potential procurement of 100 OA-X aircraft optimized for irregular warfare missions, which could see the U.S. Air Force back in the business
Alenia Aermacchi is reorganizing the layout of its Venegono plant in Italy in preparation for the start of serial production of its M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. Its contract with the Italian government for six aircraft and simulation equipment (nine more aircraft are to follow) is technically ready and awaits signatures by all the ministries involved.