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Japan air defence readies for T-3s

ANDREW DOYLE / SINGAPORE

Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) expects to hand over the first pair of T-3 Kai new-generation primary trainers to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) next month to start operational testing.

The JASDF is acquiring 49 of the aircraft to replace its fleet of T-3s at Houhu air base from next year. It has earmarked ¥1 billion ($8.4 million) from its 2002-03 budget to purchase the initial 13 aircraft.

Retaining the earlier aircraft's tandem-seat configuration and wingspan of around 10m (33ft), the T-3 Kai is about 0.5m longer, and has a slightly higher maximum take-off weight of 1,585kg (3,490lb).

A 335kW (450shp) Rolls-Royce 250-B17F turboprop replaces the 250kW Lycoming IGSO-480-A1F3 piston engine used on the original version, increasing cruise speed from 140kt (260km/h) to 160kt.

The T-3 Kai prototype made a 48min first flight in July, says FHI. The Japan Defence Agency says the remainder of the flight test programme "will be scheduled, but details are undecided".

FHI secured the development deal in September 2000. Its win in 1998 was revoked after a corruption scandal led to the arrest of several of the company's senior managers. A Pilatus offer of PC-7s was rejected.

Goodrich supplies the T-3 Kai's attitude indicators and the tactical airborne navigation system, data from which is displayed on the Astronautics horizontal situation indicators in both cockpits.

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