ILA: Grob reveals smallest training aircraft with ejection seats

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Grob Aircraft has chosen ILA to take the wraps off a radical revamp of its popular G120-series elementary and basic military trainer, having equipped the aircraft with a sophisticated Elbit avionics suite and a pair of Martin-Baker ejection seats.

With a maximum take-off weight of only 1,400kg (3,100lb), the G120TP - which had its first flight three months ago - is the smallest aircraft yet to be equipped with Martin-Baker ejection seats. The Mk.15B seat - weighing 36kg - is also the first from the UK company to feature a fully composite seat bucket.

The enhancements have been made to enable the G120 to be used for some elements of advanced pilot training that currently require more expensive aircraft such as the Beechcraft T-6 Texan, Pliatus PC-9 or Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1.

grob g120 tp, © billypix
 © Billypix

"The pilot is able to go and exercise missions that previously could only be done in $8-10 million aircraft," says Andre Hiebeler, Grob Aircraft chief sales officer. "Air forces want to reduce costs. We're trying to put two markets together - basic/elementary and some parts of advanced," he adds.

Hiebeler says there were no problems integrating ejection seats into such a small aircraft because the side-by-side cockpit is "very roomy". Fitting ejection seats enables the aircraft to be used to practise spins, close-formation flying and dog-fighting.

"The Mk.15B is half the weight of our current lightest seat," says Martin-Baker programme manager James Pearse. "We've gone to an entirely composite seat bucket now." The Mk.15B can be fired down to zero altitude and a speed of 60kt (110km/h).

The fully specified G120TB - including upgraded Rolls-Royce 250-B17F turboprop engine - is priced at $3.5 million, compared with $1.3 million for the basic G120. It is being offered for competitions in India, Indonesia and the UK.

The basic G120 has been bought by Canada, France, Germany, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.