Taiwan is accelerating plans to procure a light military transport aircraft. The programme suffered the latest of several delays last year as funding difficulties pushed the start of the procurement back to at least 2002.

Among the contenders, Lockheed Martin, with partner Alenia, is offering the C-27J upgrade of the Italian company's G222, which has battled with the CASA/IPTN CN235 for the 18-22 aircraft order for years.

The stretched C295 version available from the Spanish company could also be a contender.

It is not clear why the transport aircraft procurement has been accelerated but Taiwan retired its elderly Fairchild C-119 Packets in late 1997, increasing utilisation of the Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules fleet, which in turn has reduced its remaining life and increased maintenance costs.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems vice-president business development Rick Hundley confirms the requirement has "moved back to the front burner" and is again an active programme.

Source: Flight International