Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Dasa) is completing the concept phase of its proposed AT-2000 supersonic jet-trainer project, and expects a decision on whether to proceed with the project-definition phase by the end of this month.
The aircraft is being planned in partnership with South Africa's Denel and Hyundai of South Korea. Precise workshares have not yet been decided, but Dasa will take the lead role, while the partners will have slightly smaller stakes in the programme.
The industry-funded definition phase will take about a year, says Dasa military-aircraft president Aloysius Rauen. After that, a decision has to be taken on whether to proceed with full-scale development, which will only go ahead once orders for the aircraft have been received.
Rauen concedes, however, that there is no formal jet-trainer requirement in the German air force's current five-year planning, but he says that an aircraft such as the AT-2000 will certainly be needed towards the end of the next decade. There have been signs that the air force will show a preference for the AT-2000 once the requirement is there, says Rauen.
The AT-2000 is projected as being powered by a single Eurojet EJ200 engine, with the aircraft also intended to meet light-fighter requirements.
It remains uncertain what, if any, impact a South Korean Government decision to proceed with the KTX-2will have on Hyundai's role in the AT-2000.
According to the German air force, the last 20 operational Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jets, based at Fürstenfeldbruck in southern Germany, stopped flying at the end of June.
German air force pilots are now receiving their basic jet-aircraft training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, in the USA, on 41 US Air Force-owned Northrop T-38As and 35 T-38B trainers.
The German air force says that it is now looking for a buyer for about 100 retired Alpha Jets which are mothballed at Fürstenfeldbruck.