New Zealand is preparing to release a long-planned request for proposals covering new fixed-wing air force training aircraft and simulators.

Acting Deputy Secretary of Defence (acquisitions) Kevin McMahon says the New Zealand government has approved a budget for the Beechcraft King Air B200 replacement programme and an RFP should be released by the end of September. He says New Zealand will be asking for a mix of lease and buy proposals for both new and used aircraft. Simulators will also be included in the procurement.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force now leases five B200s, but McMahon says it will not specify in the RFP exactly how many aircraft it requires. He says this will depend on the platform selected and how many simulators are acquired.

RNZAF may also include maintenance in the procurement or it could opt to maintain the new trainer fleet in-house. "It's a question of economics," McMahon says.

He says the air force has been given a total budget for its advanced pilot training programme but it has the flexibility to determine the best combination of solutions. He declines to say how much funding has been set aside and says the RNZAF will only be able to gauge if the budget is sufficient after it receives the full package of bids.

The B200s are now maintained externally as part of a package that also includes a simulator and the actual training of pilots. The RNZAF plans to take over operations of the programme, which gives it the option of bringing maintenance in-house, although it could opt to lease the new aircraft instead of buying them outright.

Source: Flight International