Singapore could issue a shortlist of manufacturers and prime contractors for its advanced jet training programme by the end of June, with industry sources expecting the nation's defence ministry, Defence Science and Technology Agency and air force to hold briefings for the shortlisted candidates earlier the same month. There, further details on the requirement will be revealed, enabling the remaining contenders to refine their bids.

The Alenia Aermacchi M-346, BAE Systems Hawk 128 and Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 have all undergone flight demonstrations for Singapore over the last few months, but it has so far only given the bidders broad guidelines on what it wants for the programme, leaving them to recommend aircraft numbers and costs.

 © BAE

Many industry sources expect Singapore to follow the United Arab Emirates' lead by eliminating the Hawk from its AJT contest, with speculation having increased after the UK type failed to arrive in time to participate in February's Singapore air show.

Several companies, including Lockheed Martin and Singapore Technologies Aerospace, are also in the running to become prime contractor for the AJT requirement, with the customer keen to have a separate company responsible for running the system. But unlike its earlier Basic Wings training system - awarded to Lockheed and its partner Pilatus and using the latter's PC-21 - airframe suppliers and primes must this time submit separate bids and cannot nominate a preferred partner.

Singapore also has yet to confirm whether it will continue to conduct its advanced training activities at France's Cazaux air base. Alenia Aermacchi has said that it would be willing to accommodate Singaporean students at its M-346 training facility in Italy, while Lockheed officials indicated during the Singapore air show that they would welcome the nation's AJT activities to the USA, where the Republic of Singapore Air Force pilots already train on the Boeing F-15 and Lockheed F-16.

Source: Flight International