COMPETITION TO replace Australia's fleet of de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou light-transport aircraft has intensified, with IPTN of Indonesia and Alenia of Italy announcing teaming agreements with Australian companies. CASA is expected to follow.

The size of the RAAF order has not yet been determined, but could be as few as 12-14 aircraft, should the air force choose to buy additional Boeing CH-47D helicopters. Other suggestions point to a purchase of 18-24 aircraft.

IPTN has joined Hawker de Havilland and Honeywell Australia to propose the CN-235 Series 330 aircraft. Alenia, in the meantime, has teamed with Aerospace Technologies of Australia (ASTA) to offer the larger G.222.

Hawker de Havilland will take responsibility for the customisation and in-service logistical support of the CN-235. The company will have design authority to modify the CN-235 to meet Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) mission requirements.

Honeywell will provide integration and support for new avionics systems fitted to the aircraft. IPTN has proposed installing a new autopilot, global-positioning/inertial-navigation system, MIL-STD 1553 databus and a portable maintenance computer.

Consideration is also being given to fitting the aircraft with Australia's locally developed ARL-2002 electronic-warfare self-protection system. The avionics modifications are intended to provide commonality with the RAAF's upgraded Lockheed P-3Cs and its planned purchase of Lockheed C-130J transport aircraft.

ASTA's initial agreement with Alenia covers the option of G.222 final assembly in Australia, coupled with modifications and after-sales support. Alenia is also offering to develop ASTA as a maintenance station for other G.222s in service in Southeast Asia, in countries such as Thailand.

A decision on local final assembly will depend on the number of aircraft ordered. The company adds that it may prove more cost-effective for ASTA to manufacture components or sub- assemblies.

Alenia concedes that modifications will be needed for the G.222 to meet RAAF requirements. Principal changes will include the installation of up-rated avionics, including glass-cockpit displays.

IPTN and Alenia face strong competition from CASA, which is offering its own version of the CN-235 Series 200. The company is still negotiating with potential Australian partners, but it is understood that any agreements signed will not include final assembly.

The Spanish company's discussions with Australian industry centre on providing through-life support for the RAAF and "maybe other CN-235 users in the region".

CASA is delaying modifications for the CN-235 until after the RAAF issues a request for tenders in September 1996. A contract, is expected to be awarded, by the second quarter of 1997.

Source: Flight International