Argentina launches work on IA-73 trainer

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Some 25 years after it began work on its last aircraft - the IA-63 Pampa - Argentina's FAdeA has disclosed plans to develop a new trainer.

The company's board of directors gave the go-ahead for the new IA-73 programme in late August, and general manager Marcelo Ferroni says the company is now fine-tuning the design as it holds discussions with Argentinian air force authorities.

Aimed at first replacing the service's Beechcraft B45 Mentor ab initio trainers, the IA-73 is also expected to later succeed the Embraer EMB-312 Tucanos currently operated at the air force's Córdoba flight school.

But with Argentina's air force, army and navy to soon merge their training syllabi, the IA-73 is also being tailored to replace other fixed-wing assets, such as the Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentor.

"Our intention is to develop a single-platform training package," Ferroni says. "We want to become a training systems provider and are attuning ourselves to local [South American] training aircraft needs."

FAdeA plans to conclude the IA-73's design definition early next year, and to achieve a first flight in early 2013. The company expects to launch production of the type in late 2014 or early 2015.

Meanwhile, Ferroni says FAdeA has over the last three months been engaged in negotiations with Embraer with an eye to participating in the company's KC-390 tanker/transport programme. Entry into the programme would "reinsert FAdeA back into the international market", he says, and provide access to key production technologies.