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PARIS: France plans Alpha Jet replacement

France is gearing up to replace its fleet of aged Dassault Alpha jet trainers under an initiative provisionally dubbed “Project Cognac”.

An initial pre-solicitation request was issued in April by France’s DGA procurement body and is likely to be followed by a request for proposals (RFP) in September.

Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi says it will offer its developmental M-345 jet for the nascent requirement, which will equip the French flight training school located at Cognac/Châteaubernard air base.

“We presented our candidature on 1 June. Now we are waiting for the next step which will probably be the RFP.”

Paris has an active inventory of 86 of the 1970s-era type, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database, and they are also flown by the nation's Patrouille de France aerobatic team.

Alenia is likely to face competition for the contest from Aero Vodochody’s L-39 Albatros jet, and the Beechcraft T-6 and Pilatus PC-21 turboprops.

It is developing the Williams International FJ44-4M-powered M-345 for the Italian air force, although is yet to secure a contract with the service.

First delivery of the jet, which also features Selex avionics, is scheduled for 2018.

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