US/TAIWANESE power plant joint venture International Turbine Engine (ITEC) is striving to bring forward the development schedule of the F124- powered Aero L-159 advanced trainer/ light-attack aircraft. The company is also still attempting to get the engine on to the British Aerospace Hawk trainer.

Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody is working with ITEC to speed development so that the L-159 is ready for the fly-off for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) lead-in-fighter programme.

First engines from ITEC, a joint venture between AlliedSignal and the Aero Industry Development Center (AIDC) of Taiwan, are due to be shipped to the Czech Republic in the third quarter of 1995.

Current schedules call for the first flight of the F124-powered L-159 in April 1996. "We're trying to accelerate that a little," says ITEC president Pat Hurley.

The RAAF programme will include a fly-off during the second quarter of 1996, with a selection from the six short-listed contenders following in quick succession.

The L-159 is under development for the Czech air force, but has formally entered the RAAF competition. The Czech air force, meanwhile, has been authorised by the national parliament to purchase 79 of the aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 1997.

The F124, which is a non-after-burning version of the TFE1042-70 developed for the Taiwanese Indigenous Defensive Fighter (IDF), is still being offered as an alternative to the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour, even though it failed to replace the engine on US Navy McDonnell Douglas/ British Aerospace T-45A trainers.

ITEC says that it is in "on-going dialogue" with BAe over powering the Hawk with the F124 and adds that "low-level dialogue" is also taking place with the Royal Saudi Air Force over a similar proposal. The Saudis already operate Hawks and recently ordered another batch.

In other retrofit possibilities, the F124 is being evaluated by Romanian manufacturer ADCXO, as a replacement, for the Rolls-Royce Viper, in the IAR.99 Swift. A Romanian delegation visited ITEC in February and is in a study phase, although "...funding is an issue", cautions Hurley.

The Egyptian air force has also made "very pointed inquiries" about using the F124 as either a retrofit for L-59s or in new L-159s. The Egyptians plan to expand the light-attack fleet by between 38 and 40 in 1997.

Source: Flight International