South Africa and the Czech Republic are considering a reciprocal procurement of the Aero Vodochody L-159 advanced jet trainer and the Denel CSH-2 Rooivalk attack helicopter.

Senior industry sources say that initial talks have taken place to study the possibility of some kind of counter-purchase arrangement.

The South African Air Force (SAAF) is in the process of acquiring an aircraft to replace its ageing Aermacchi MB326 Impala jet trainer, while the Czech Republic is looking for a successor to its Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter.

Denel is keen to notch up its first Rooivalk export customer and remains optimistic that a Malaysian order will eventually materialise. It is also addressing emerging attack helicopter requirements in South Korea and Spain.

Meanwhile, the release of a requirement by the SAAF in March for 24 advanced jet trainers has raised the possibility of levering the helicopter into Eastern Europe in a swap deal for the new Czech trainer. A request for offers (RFO) from the air force is expected to be released for the trainer by the end of this month.

The trainer procurement is being pursued outside the auspices of South Africa's over- arching defence procurement package. This, say some industry sources, may open the way for US companies to enter the market, even though they are now excluded from bidding into the wider defence package. Aero Vodochody is teamed with Boeing on the L-159 development. AlliedSignal is supplying the engines.

British Aerospace's Hawk 100, Alenia's AMX-ATA, MAPO's MiG-AT, the Sukhoi S-54, the Aermacchi MB339FD, the Yakovlev Yak-130 and the Daimler-Benz Aerospace Ranger 2000 are also contenders for the requirement. China may offer the K-8 to meet the 2003 in-service date.

The winning aircraft is likely to be licence-manufactured by Denel in South Africa - although that condition probably would not apply to a trainer/helicopter swap deal.

Source: Flight International