The fate of the nine-nation Advanced European Jet Pilot Training (AEJPT) programme could become clear within the coming months, with participating nations being urged to allocate funds to the initiative after receiving fresh details on its likely cost.

Industry has until 15 March to respond to a July 2009 request for information linked to the AEJPT/Eurotraining system, with this deadline having been extended from mid-January following requests from some companies.

The AEJPT policy group will look at the responses before hosting an industry day on 14 April to update potential bidders, says its chairman, Col Kris Dewilde of the Belgian air force. A full analysis of the information should be completed around July.

Originally floated in the late 1990s, the multinational scheme is now planned to deliver collaborative instruction to a projected 167 student pilots and 10 weapon system operators a year using advanced jet trainers, simulators and other equipment. Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 is the favoured airframe, although BAE Systems is also promoting a possible solution using a development of its Hawk 128.

 M-346 shadow
© Alenia Aermacchi
The M-346 is in pole position for the advanced jet trainer requirement

Despite having agreed a European Staff Requirement for the AEJPT system in June 2006, the governments of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden have yet to allocate funds for the initiative.

If a joint commitment is forthcoming, a request for proposals for key equipment should be released by October 2011, with an aircraft type selection to follow around July 2012 and contract signature in January 2014, says Dewilde. This would enable the AEJPT system to achieve initial operating capability in 2017 and full operating capability in 2020, although he says efforts could be made to accelerate this schedule.

The policy group is looking to address issues such as whether a replacement memorandum of understanding is required to advance the programme. Its current agreement, signed in 2008, calls for development, production and in-service support contracts to be signed no later than April 2012. The group is also considering whether to place management responsibility for the project with the OCCAR procurement body, rather than the European Defence Agency.

"The policy group needs to take a decision on a new management structure and legal framework," Dewilde told IQPC's Military Flight Training conference in London on 24 February. "We're under heavy time pressure."

Some industry sources believe the AEJPT programme is poised to collapse, citing budgetary pressures and conflicting requirements among its member nations for industrial workshare and training base status.

Source: Flight International