Embraer is believed to have been eliminated from the United Arab Emirates’ estimated 64-aircraft basic and advanced jet trainer competition, narrowing the field to designs produced by Alenia Aermacchi, Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin and Pilatus.
Industry sources say the UAE sent letters to the programme’s then-five bidding companies in late October, informing them of its decision to narrow each element of the contest to two airframes, from a previous three. This prompted BAE Systems to announce that its Hawk 128 AJT had been eliminated, although the remaining competitors believed that they were all still in with a chance of securing a contract.
But sources speaking at the Dubai air show say the UAE also moved to eliminate Embraer from its basic trainer contest, leaving the deal open to either the Alenia Aermacchi M-311 or Pilatus PC-21. Its decision stemmed from factors including the Brazilian manufacturer’s failure to send an EMB-314 Super Tucano to the Gulf region to participate in a mid-year hot weather evaluation process, they say.
An Embraer comment released on 12 November says: "We have received no news on this [elimination], so believe the competition is still open". However, the company’s decision to send no representatives from its defence business sector to Dubai would appear to confirm that it is no longer in the running for the estimated 30-40 aircraft basic trainer deal.
Industry sources meanwhile moved to dampen speculation that the UAE could make a decision on its two-tier trainer order during the 11-15 November show, noting that the recent correspondence will lead to a fresh round of discussions on industrial terms – including a requirement for an offset package worth 60% of the total project value – and an agreement on aircraft specifications and final numbers.
The project’s potentially 24-aircraft AJT element is emerging as a bitter battle for early market dominance between the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and the KAI/Lockheed T-50, both of which participated in the daily flying display at the show and are seeking their first export sales on the lucrative global trainer market.