Manufacturers showcase platforms designed to replace air force Buckeye fleet

Several advanced jet trainer (AJT) manufacturers descended on the Defendory show in anticipation of a contest to meet one of the Greek air force’s highest priority requirements: to select a replacement for its Rockwell T-2 Buckeye fleet.

Industry sources say the air force’s acquisition is likely to total around 30 aircraft, but add that the service has yet to initiate a contest or to provide potential bidders with detailed information about its future requirement. The programme also has not been allocated funding in Athens’ current five-year defence spending plan, but the sources say a contest could be initiated with a request for proposals as early as April 2007, with programme costs to be included in the defence ministry’s procurement allocation for 2011-15.

Systems being promoted to the Greek air force include the Aero Vodochody L-159, Alenia Aermacchi M-346, BAE Systems Hawk 128, Boeing T-45 Goshawk and Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50. Other candidates could include Russia’s RSK MiG-AT and Yakovlev Yak-130, although neither design bureau participated in last week’s exhibition. The Greek air force now operates around 37 T-2E trainers, according to Flight’s MiliCAS database.

Aero Vodochody used the show to promote a new BAT variant of its baseline L-159, 72 of which have already been produced for the Czech air force. The Czech manufacturer is offering to remanufacture some of its domestic customer’s surplus L-159As into a two-seat B configuration for Greece, with the platforms to receive replacement fuselages and airframe components, but to retain their original avionics equipment.

The improved aircraft – four of which are now in conversion for the Czech air force – will “enable a seamless transition to any modern supersonic aircraft”, believes Aero Vodochody project manager Pavel Sedlacek. An L-159 BAT offer would also include ground-based training and mission planning equipment and integrated logistics support, with the aircraft also potentially available to meet a Greek capability gap until a new AJT can be acquired after 2010, the company says.

BAE is promoting its new-generation Hawk 128 system, which has already been selected to meet the UK’s AJT needs from late this decade. Company officials say a delayed contract to produce around 28 of the aircraft for the UK Ministry of Defence will be signed before year-end, and have also revealed that around half of the aircraft are already in manufacture in anticipation of the award.

Source: Flight International