Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) is planning to issue requests for quotations (RFQs) on the Eurofighter EF2000 aircrew synthetic training aids (ASTA) package by the end of this year.

Dasa has project authority on the programme, and issued requests for information (RFIs) last year to European and US suppliers of simulator-specific systems. According to Dasa, 13 companies responded to the RFIs.

The four Eurofighter nations are planning to take a total of 13 full mission simulators and 18-20 cockpit trainers, to be developed and produced within the ASTA programme, although these numbers may yet change, according to Dasa vice-president for series production programmes Erwin Obermeier. The first simulators are to be delivered in 2002, shortly before the first EF2000 delivery.

Obermeier says that Dasa hopes as far as possible to keep the simulator programme within Europe, although suppliers outside Europe have not been ruled out. Dasa is in the middle of the definition phase of the programme, evaluating cost, performance and availability factors, and putting together the tender documentation.

Early in June, Dasa flew Manching-built EF2000 development aircraft DA5 to Rygge air base in Norway, Eurofighter's greatest hope as a potential export customer and the first such to have a demonstration visit. The aircraft was tested on the ground in hardened aircraft shelters originally built for the country's Lockheed Martin F-16 fleet.

Obermeier says that the Norwegian air force wanted to check that the aircraft was the right size to operate from the shelters, and carried out engine runs, airflow measurements and noise measurements inside the structures. Air force personnel also conducted ground handling trials, including the loading and unloading of weaponry using Norwegian equipment.

The results of the trials were "excellent", says Obermeier. They were followed by a well-received flying display for some 200 assembled air force officers, including senior staff.

The EF2000 is competing directly against the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 50N in Norway, after being shortlisted from an original 12 candidates.

An RFQ is expected to be issued in the next few months, with a selection made at the end of next year or in early 2000. Norway wants to buy some 30-40 aircraft at a cost of about NKr14.4 billion ($1.92 billion).

The loss of the United Arab Emirates fighter contract in mid-May to the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 has made the Norwegian contract that much more critical for the European aircraft as it battles for its first export customer.

Source: Flight International