Aircraft due to enter service in late-2010 or early 2011 to prepare future combat fleet

Singapore's advanced jet trainer contest is moving up a gear, with a request for information likely to be issued in the next two months.

Most of the contenders have met government agencies in recent weeks in preparation for the tender. Industry sources say that the RFI is likely to elicit responses from Alenia Aermacchi's M-346, the Aviation Technology Group/Israel Aerospace Industries Javelin Mk30, BAE Systems, with the Hawk 128, Korea Aerospace Industries offering the T-50, and the Yakovlev Yak-130.

© Korea Aerospace Industries   
The first international customer for Korea Aerospace Industries' T-50 could be given "significant discounts"

An invitation to tender is likely to be issued by early 2008, with the T-50, the Hawk 128 and the M-346 tipped to be the leading contenders. All three aircraft are also lined up to be on display at the Singapore air show next February. The Republic of Singapore Air Force currently uses almost 16 McDonnell Douglas A/TA-4SU Skyhawks for advanced training in Cazaux, France.

Sources from KAI say the company could give "significant discounts" to the first international customer of the T-50, which is jointly developed and marketed with Lockheed Martin. Some industry sources believe that Lockheed's involvement in the project could be an advantage, given its participation in Singapore's PC-21 contract and as Lockheed F-16s form the backbone of the RSAF's combat capability.

It is unclear how many trainer aircraft the service would require, but sources say Singapore could also acquire extra AJTs to take over some training missions now performed with fighters. It is also not confirmed if the RSAF will lease the aircraft or purchase them directly from the manufacturer.

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. A selection could be made in early 2009, with the trainers coming into service around late-2010 or early 2011.

Last year Singapore chose the Pilatus PC-21 basic trainer to replace its Aermacchi S-211s used at Pearce airbase in Australia since the 1980s. A team led by Lockheed Simulation, Training and Support will supply and maintain 19 PC-21s and ground-based training equipment from 2008 under the Basic Wings deal.

The RSAF is studying whether it will continue to base its advanced jet training in France, but some sources suggest that could be moved to Australia too.

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Source: Flight International