Upgrade of AT-63 advanced trainer seen as crucial to securing export contracts in Latin America and Asia

Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina (LMAASA) is to develop a radar-equipped upgrade of the AT-63 Pampa advanced trainer and light attack aircraft as part of efforts to clinch emerging requirements in Latin America and Asia.

The decision to fit the Lockheed Martin APG-67(V)4 multimode radar follows input from at least one unnamed prospective customer. The upgrade improves the light attack variant's air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities.

Minor modifications to the Pampa's nose are required to accommodate the radar's 0.25m (10in) diameter antenna. The decision follows a demonstration in Colombia in October last year, although LMAASA declines to comment on this link.

Sources close to the competition confirm, however, that a radar requirement is expected in the definitive request for proposals (RFP) that Colombia is likely to issue in the next four months.

LMAASA says the AT-63 is in four competitions with total initial requirements for 60 aircraft. One is believed to be Singapore's training system requirement, an RFP for which is expected in January 2003.

LMAASA is considering several options for the requirement including a mixed package including simulators, training systems, AT-63 aircraft and possibly theT-50 being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin.

The radar is one option in a range of avionics, propulsion and weapon system upgrades being offered for the "Next Generation"AT-63. The first two aircraft incorporating baseline upgrades are being assembled at LMAASA's Cordoba site, and the first will fly in November.

A further 10 new-build AT-63s, together with 12 remanufactured aircraft are due to be delivered to the Argentinan air force by June 2005.

LMAASA adds, however, that the timescale for the refurbished aircraft has "gone to the right" and no definite timescale, other than the delivery deadline, exists.

The upgraded Argentinan AT-63s incorporate an Elbit avionics suite with a single multifunction display (MFD), although LMAASA expects future customers to specify full glass cockpits with dual MFDs. Future options include a more powerful Honeywell TFE731-41R turbofan.

Source: Flight International