It might seem strange that the aerospace world awaits with such anticipation Singapore’s choice of advanced jet trainer, especially since it will probably involve no more than a dozen aircraft. But, as Alenia Aermacchi’s CEO Carmelo Cosentino remarked here at the show, “Singapore is one of the most sophisticated and demanding customers in the world–and we like that because we have the best product.”
The Roulettes display team from Australia is providing a daily example of skilled flying in conditions that are sometimes quite demanding. In a marked contrast to the thunderous roar of the RSAF Black Knights display team, which features the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter, the turboprop-powered Australian-built Pilatus PC-9A trainers are slower–and quieter.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force is the first export customer for the latest Pilatus PC-21 turboprop trainer, developed to train pilots to front-line fighter level without intermediate training on a jet. Singapore’s new training program also is innovative on another level–under its private-public structure, Lockheed Martin serves as the main contractor, supplying all the infrastructure and leaving only the teaching to the military.
Alenia Aermacchi expects to soon ink an order for 18 SF-260 primary trainers from the Philippines National Defence Department as part of a package aimed at modernizing the Asian nation’s armed forces. The Philippines armed forces have been using SF-260 trainers since the early 1970s, when they took the first of an order for 46 piston-powered aircraft, replaced in 1991 by 18 SF-260TP turboprops.
Training was not forgotten amid the multibillion-dollar aircraft and MRO deals various Dubai organizations signed at the Dubai Airshow in November.
Dubai World Central (DWC) Aviation City signed a land lease agreement with Spatial Aviation Safety Training Academy (Sasta) to establish the Middle East’s first independent aviation safety training academy.
While record-breaking orders for airliners were announced, the just-completed Dubai Air Show, held from November 11 to 15, offered no big news for the defense industry. However, there were important developments across the border in Saudi Arabia, and the UAE Air Force is close to making important decisions about its future pilot training system.
Each of the original three contenders to supply the UAE Air Force with an advanced jet trainer (AJT) offered unique selling points that could have tipped the balance in their favor. But following the recent rejection of the BAE Hawk submission, a final selection is expected imminently and could even be announced before the end of the show.
Three military aerobatic teams from Europe will appear in the daily flying display here, interspersed with a dozen solo acts. The Spanish air force Patrulla Aguila (Eagle Patrol) is making its Dubai debut, flying seven CASA 101 jet trainers. The Patrouille de France and the UK Royal Air Force Red Arrows are making return appearances. Among the solo performers, the MiG-29 OVT will likely attract the most attention.
While the first two prototypes of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 lead-in fighter trainer are engaged in a development program, a third is taking shape at the Italian manufacturer’s Venegono facility. It incorporates some differences from the two existing aircraft, having benefited from test and evaluation programs Alenia Aermacchi conducted with air force pilots from various countries.
The U.S. Air Force’s T-6 program office has suspended deliveries of the Hawker Beechcraft T-6A Texan II single-engine turboprop trainer “pending investigation of contract delivery issues,” according to a spokesman at the Air Force Air Education & Training Command (AETC). The AETC currently operates 320 T-6As for Air Force specialized undergraduate pilot training, and the U.S.