A Taiwan air force programme to replace ageing tactical transports has slipped, with competitors now not expecting a contract before 2002 at the earliest. The air force has already retired its elderly Fairchild C-119 Boxcars and had planned to fund a replacement in its 1998/9 budget.

"The programme has been around for some time, but right now it looks like fiscal year 2003 before we can do anything here. Now we would expect a preliminary RFI [request for information] next year, then a request for proposals in 2001, and a contract in 2002 to 2003," says Lockheed Martin regional manager for international sales Paul Bjorklund.

The company responded to an initial RFI in 1996, but little progress has since been made. The requirement is for 18-22 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems is offering its Allison AE2100-powered C-27J, while CASA and IPTN are both offering their own respective versions of the co-developed CN235.

Spanish manufacturer CASA is also proposing its larger, soon-to-be certificated C295. The company claims the aircraft would be 50-70% cheaper to operate than the C-27J based on a comparison of ferrying equal loads over a 925km (500nm) route during the course of a year.

Source: Flight International