Poland issues tender for new jet trainer fleet

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Poland has launched its long-awaited tender for a new advanced jet pilot training system, outlining an ambitious set of performance characteristics for its replacement for the PZL Mielec TS-11 Iskra.

As detailed by the nation's defence procurement agency on 2 September, the integrated training system requirement seeks 16 advanced jet trainer/lead-in fighter trainer aircraft. The contest will also cover the provision of ground-based training equipment including a full mission simulator, plus a package of logistics support.

The successful bidder must deliver training for an initial 12 pilots, including six instructors, and at least 50 ground personnel.

The first two trainers and related systems should be delivered to the Polish air force academy in Deblin by December 2013, with all aircraft and equipment to follow within a further two-year period. Warsaw has allocated 1.45 billion zlotys ($440 million) for the acquisition, and expects to announce a winner in the first quarter of next year.

But spreading far beyond the AJT remit, the defence ministry's specification list means that none of the three contenders in place to submit first bid responses by 4 October can meet all the requirements. Alenia Aermacchi is offering the M-346, BAE Systems the Hawk T2/128, and Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin the T-50/FA-50.

For its secondary light combat requirement, the air force is seeking an aircraft capable of carrying at least 2,000kg (4,410lb) of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and laser- and GPS-guided bombs. It should also have an internal 20mm cannon, plus provisions for a targeting pod and self-protection equipment.

The defence ministry has also specified a design with fly-by-wire flight controls and supersonic performance, plus an in-flight refuelling probe, Link 16 datalink and preferably an active electronically scanned array radar.

The winning airframe should also have a service life of 8,000 flight hours at 250h a year, enabling the type to remain in use for more than 30 years.

Representatives from the competing manufacturers say they hope "some technical requirements will be adjusted", but add: "There is plenty of room for negotiation".

This message is supported by Marcin Idzik, undersecretary of state in the Polish defence ministry. "The requirements are so broad, to include a maximum number of bidders," he says.