MURDO MORRISON / RAF FAIRFORD
Manufacturer says winning large part of 150-aircraft Eurotrainer contract is "crucial"
EADS has ruled out the Snecma M88 as the powerplant for its Mako supersonic trainer/light fighter and will choose next year between General Electric's F414 or the Eurojet EJ200. It follows the French engine-builder's decision not to go ahead with a higher-powered -3 version of the engine after the M88-powered Dassault Rafale lost the South Korean fighter contest.
EADS also says winning a significant part of the 150-aircraft Euro-trainer contract at the end of next year is "crucial" to the Mako. "Unless we have another customer by then - preferably European - we will have to think about [the programme]," says Max Heyder, vice-president light combat and training aircraft for EADS Military Aircraft.
The United Arab Emirates is the non-European state that has shown most interest in the Mako, but budgetary problems following its Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 acquisition and falling oil prices have made any decision unlikely this year. Heyder says the company is pursuing other potential customers, including Brazil.
The private-venture Mako programme entered a definition phase in January which will last until 2005. A prototype is scheduled to fly in 2009, with the aircraft due to be operational from 2010.
Aermacchi, Dassault, EADS Casa, EADS Military Aircraft and Saab have signed an industrial collaboration agreement to bid jointly for the Advanced European Jet Pilot Training (AEJPT) programme feasibility study. This is part of the Eurotraining initiative to create a combined training system for up to 19 European air forces, to enter service by the end of the decade.
The study will cover all aspects of Eurotraining, including synthetic environments and a training needs analysis. Aircraft selection for Eurotrainer requirements is likely to be left until after the study as at least three partners - Aermacchi, EADS Military Aircraft and Saab - have aircraft in contention.