Sikorsky has agreed to provide financial support to Monitor Jet, which plans to produce the Bede BD-10 jet-powered kitplane in Canada as a low-cost trainer and unmanned target drone. The agreement, to provide manufacturing and marketing support, is part of Sikorsky's bid to win the Canadian Search-and-rescue Helicopter programme.

Monitor Jet's parent company, the Canadian Aerospace Group, plans to select by early 1997 a location in Canada at which the BD-10, renamed the MJ-7, will be produced. Design work on the production aircraft is planned to begin in January. Monitor hopes to fly a prototype MJ-7 in July, says president Philip Nelson.

Flight International and Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, have completed a three-month evaluation of the BD-10 prototype as a threat simulator for use in testing US Navy radar systems.

Nelson says that Flight International, which provides target services to the Navy, has asked Monitor to provide another BD-10 to allow the evaluation to continue.

Monitor says that the BD-10, which has been involved in two fatal crashes, one in December 1994, the other in August 1995, will be completely redesigned to produce the MJ-7.

The company is talking to both the Canadian National Research Council and Department of National Defence about providing airworthiness testing and technical-evaluation support for the modification project on the aircraft.

The tandem-seat aircraft, powered by a General Electric J85 turbojet, will be re-engined with a Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D turbofan, although the J85 and other engines will continue to be offered for both manned and unmanned versions. Nelson says Monitor is aiming for a target unit cost of less than $2 million for the basic, JT15D-powered trainer version of the MJ-7.

Source: Flight International