It was a close call for me on whether to run a story about a proposed aggressor fleet being pitched in support of future fighter pilot training by NATO nations on Flightglobal earlier this week, and also in the new issue of Flight International.
ECA Program boss Melville ten Cate says an April bond issue has raised €283 million ($375 million), and that this will enable his company to move ahead with the concept by announcing a platform selection by mid-May, before then seeking additional backing. Named candidates are the Saab Gripen, Chengdu J-10 and RSK MiG-35.
I immediately received correspondence about the ECA scheme questioning the solidity of its business case, which proposes selling training hours against an adversary fleet of around 24 lighweight fighters equipped with fifth-generation-type capabilities. Clearly there is a need for such a service from air forces unable to train under realistic combat conditions, but is this idea really going to be a flyer?
Ten Cate's philosophy is one of "if you build it then they will come", but there seem to be many doubters out there. I'll be keeping an eye on this one over the coming weeks, and hopefully there will be further developments to report on soon.