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Israeli air force shifts trainer search to Beechcraft T-6

The Beechcraft T-6 Texan II has emerged as the preferred candidate to replace the Israeli air force's Fouga CM-170 (Zukit) basic trainers, with the service announcing that it will not further delay a selection to enable Israel Aerospace Industries to bid for the requirement.

 
© Beechcraft

IAI earlier this year requested a further delay to the contest, in a move which would allow it more time to offer a military version of the Aviation Technology Group Javelin very light jet.

 
© Aviation Technology Group

The Israeli defence ministry early last year extended the schedule for the submission of proposals for a new basic trainer, and then froze the contest without releasing a revised schedule. However, a budget for the acquisition was recently earmarked by the appropriations committee of the Israel defence forces' general staff.

IAI had hoped to reach an agreement with the air force on providing the funding required to keep its CM-170s in service until it could prove the capabilities of its Javelin Mk 20, which a company source says will be ready for delivery in 2012.

"We still hope that the Israeli air force will decide to wait," the source says, adding: "A recent study proved that the Zukit can serve safely until we have the Mk 20."

The aircraft will be identical in size to the civilian Javelin VLJ, but will feature ejection seats and military avionics. IAI is also promoting a future Mk 30 lead-in trainer variant as a replacement for types such as the Dassault-Dornier AlphaJet, McDonnell Douglas A-4 and Northrop T-38, citing a targeted unit price of $9 million.

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