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Mako no closer to production as talks drag on


EADS and the United Arab Emirates have failed to make progress towards signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for continued development of the Mako advanced trainer and light attack aircraft since the Dubai air show last November.

Erwin Obermeier, EADS Military Aircraft senior vice president programmes, says: "I don't think we are closer to signing an MoU." He adds, however, that "the UAE is still showing interest" and that UAE personnel continue to participate in the programme.

The MoU, due for signing last November, would have committed the pair to beginning full-scale development.

Obermeier says EADS is proceeding with the definition phase, which will continue until the end of 2004 using internal funding. Permission to continue into full-scale development and build initial aircraft will then be sought.

Obermeier says if a go-ahead were given today, the first aircraft would fly in 2007-08. If the MoU had been signed last year, the plan called for a first flight in 2005 and deliveries from 2008-09.

EADS will maintain the Mako advanced trainer/light strike aircraft family concept as "we've been encouraged to maintain the concept by many air forces. We are aware that in Europe the trainer is the priority, elsewhere it would be the light attack aircraft."

A potential European requirement is the multinational Eurotrainer proposal for a common training system, probably entering service in 2010-12, say industry observers.

EADS has signed a number of MoUs with potential suppliers of major systems, Obermeier says: "There are possibly two or three MoUs outstanding." These would potentially cover ground support systems and simulators, he adds.

Obermeier says market studies continue to suggest a potential market for Mako-class aircraft of more than 2,000 over 25 years, of which he believes the Mako will account for 400-800.