The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has detailed its light tactical aircraft (LTA) requirement in an invitation to register interest (ITR) issued at the end of January. Alenia, ATR, CASA, and IPTN are all expected to respond. The intention is to replace 14 de Havilland Caribou transport aircraft now in service.

Although it specifies a mid or high fixed-wing configuration, the ITR leaves the door open for rotary or tilt-wing options. "Alternative solutions, including rotary-wing aircraft or derivatives thereof, which meet the essential requirements will be considered," it says.

The RAAF wants a pressurised "turboprop, turboshaft or turbofan" aircraft with a rear cargo ramp door; two rear paratrooping doors; built-in combat damage protection, including redundancy of critical flight systems; capability to support military parachuting, supply dropping and parachute extraction operations; lighting systems compatible with third generation night vision goggles (NVG); full medical evacuation capability; and a capacity for a platoon-sized element (30 troops with equipment.)

Also listed as "essential" is the ability to transport the Australian Army's standard 6x6 and 4x4 Periente military vehicles, and 463L cargo pallets compatible with Lockheed C-130J cargo equipment.

Most performance specifications, including a 220 knots true airspeed at 90% maximum all-up weight at optimum cruise height, are to be proved at ISA + 10¹C conditions. These include an unrefuelled still air range of at least 1,200km (650 nm) (in medevac conditions (essential); 800 nm including a 50 nm low-level approach (important); and 1,000nm under the same conditions (desirable). Also specified is a radius of action of 350nm on a HI-LO-LO-HI mission under various conditions.

Runway performance required ranges from 800m to 1,000m under a variety of operational conditions. A fleet of no more than 7 aircraft is to be capable of delivering 100 tonnes of stores to a single airfield in a 350 nm radius on a HI-LO-LO-HI mission with a minimum of 2.4 tonnes per sortie and "without creating a requirement for the airfield to be repaired".

The RAAF also wants: a crash-survivable cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder and crash position indicator; weather radar capable of ground mapping; a flight management system optimised for the tactical air transport role; an electronic warfare self-protection suite including radar and laser warning and receivers, a missile approach warning system and a counter measures dispensing system; and a high degree of autonomous ground operation. First deliveries are required by July 2000.

Source: Flight International