The new Indian government has issued the request for proposal (RFP) for 56 transport aircraft worth an estimated $2 billion, to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging Hawker Siddeley 748M twin-turboprops, known as Avros. The final date for submission of bids is August 28. The contract is expected to be awarded late next year or early in 2016.
Alenia Aermacchi (Outdoor Exhibit 1) delivered the first two M-346 advanced trainers to the Israel Air and Space Force last week. The two aircraft were ferried from Alenia Aermacchi’s factory at Varese-Venegono, northwest of Milan, to their new home at the Hatzerim air base near Be’er Sheva in the Negev desert. Upon receipt of the aircraft, Israel became the third nation to operate the M-346, after Italy and Singapore.
Alenia Aermacchi has flown its MC-27J multi-mission tactical transport in full mission specification for the first time. On April 25 the aircraft took to the skies at the company’s Turin-Caselle flight-test center with defensive aids fitted and an L-3 Wescam MX-15Di electro-optical turret under the port side of the nose. The company demonstrator is also outfitted with the hardware necessary to accommodate palletized mission packages, and has Link 16 datalink software installed.
A recent order for two Alenia C-27J Spartans by Peru has highlighted a new way to assess the merits of airlifters, which the company labels as “transport productivity.” Rather than use traditional methods of assessing operating costs, such as cost per flying hour, it is better to evaluate the transport cost per ton/mile, asserted Giovanni Timossi, Alenia’s v-p international sales for Asia and Oceania.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) will acquire through an intra-service transfer 14 Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartans that the U.S. Air Force planned to store. Congress directed the transfer in the Fiscal Year 2014 defense authorization bill, which President Obama signed on December 26.
Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi announced orders from Poland for its M-346 advanced jet trainer and from Peru for its C-27J Spartan airlifter in December. Poland becomes the fourth country to select the M-346; Peru is the eleventh customer for the C-27J.
On December 23, Alenia Aermacchi said the Polish Ministry of Defense ordered eight M-346s, flight simulators and training devices in a contract it valued at €280 million ($385 million). The manufacturer expects to sign the contract early this year.
Airbus Military and Alenia Aermacchi have performed firefighting trials of their competing tactical airlifters, the C295 and the C-27J, respectively. As defense budgets tighten, both companies are hoping to sell new, cost-effective applications such as these.
Alenia Aermacchi’s factory at Venegono has begun assembling the first of 30 M-346 advanced jet trainers for Israel. The Italian company said that the program to replace the Israeli air force’s TA-4 Skyhawks is on time and budget, “thanks to a highly skilled workforce and one of the most automated of production lines.”
Almost three months on from the crash of a pre-series aircraft in Italy on May 11, Alenia Aermacchi’s M346 jet remains grounded as investigations into the causes of the accident continue. The Italian manufacturer has insisted there are no similarities between this incident and the November 2011 accident in which a prototype M346 crashed off the coast of Dubai after appearing in the airshow there.
The launch customer for the $50 million Sukhoi Business Jet has decided not to complete the first two aircraft and could back out of its deal to buy the aircraft altogether. Just when the first SBJ will be placed into service is now uncertain as Sukhoi and Italian partner Alenia toil to make deliveries to airline clients after fitting the aircraft with numerous upgrades, including a revamped passenger cabin by the Italian design house Pininfarina.
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