THE PHILIPPINE Air Force has re-engined a SIAI-Marchetti SF.260, with a turboprop and test-flown it, as part of a programme to extend the operational life of its trainer/light-attack aircraft.

The air force's early-build SF.260M/W aircraft are being upgraded to the newer SF.260TP standard as part of its "Project Layang". The programme is also being promoted as an engineering exercise to help develop the country's aerospace sector.

The air force's Research and Development Centre at Villamor AB, with initial assistance from Philippine Aerospace Development, has already retrofitted one aircraft with an Allison 250-B17D turboprop engine.

The new 260kW (350shp) power plant is lighter and more powerful than the SF.260's original Textron Lycoming O-540-E4A5 piston engine. Work has also included fabricating a new engine cowling, fitting new cockpit avionics and oil cooler and repositioning the battery.

The number of under-wing hard points has been increased to four, allowing the aircraft to carry up to 300kg of 70mm rockets, machine-gun pods, bombs and flare dispensers, as well as reconnaissance cameras. The Project Layang upgrade is estimated to cost 18 million pesos ($690,000) an aircraft compared to around 28 million peso for a new-build SF-260TP. According to the air force, it has 18 unserviceable SF.260s, which it wants to upgrade. The aircraft will be used to supplement a similar number of recently delivered SF-260TPs.

It also suggests that the upgrade could be exported to other SF.260 operators in the region.

Source: Flight International