Singapore has issued a long-awaited request for information for its advanced jet trainer (AJT) competition, with manufacturers given two months to clarify any doubts and respond to the requirement.

Industry sources say Singapore is seeking information on the Alenia AermacchiM-346, Aviation Technology Group/Israel Aerospace Industries Mk30 Javelin, BAE SystemsHawk 128 and Korea Aerospace IndustriesT-50. A selection could be made in early 2009, with the trainers coming into service around late 2010 or early 2011.

An invitation to tender could be issued by early 2008, with the list to be whittled down to two aircraft for trials. It is not confirmed if the air force will lease the aircraft or purchase them directly. The T-50, Hawk 128 and M-346 are the leading contenders, and all are likely to be on display at the Singapore air show next February. Singapore Technologies Aerospace will support the winning bidder, but could also partner one of the companies during the competition.

Singapore now uses around 16 McDonnell Douglas A/TA-4SU Skyhawks for advanced training in Cazaux, France. It is unclear how many trainers are required, but sources say its air force could acquire extra AJTs to take over some training missions now performed with fighters. Bidding companies will be asked for their recommendations on whether to continue training in France. The new advanced trainers will help prepare Singapore for its future combat fleet, including at least 12 Boeing F-15SGs and, probably, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

KAI is pushing hard to export its T-50, and is thought likely to offer significant discounts to the type's international launch customer. The aircraft was jointly developed with Lockheed, which is leading a team selected last year to deliver Singapore's basic wings training system with the Pilatus PC-21.

Alenia Aermacchi is meanwhile seeking its first export sale of the M-346, while BAE wants to cement its position in Asia after earlier successes with the Hawk in Australia and India. The M-346, Hawk 128 and T-50 are also contesting the United Arab Emirates' AJT requirement, with in-country flight evaluations imminent.

Source: Flight International