Friday, October 2, 2009

Israel eyes M-346, T-50 for Skyhawk replacement deal




Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 Master and the Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 have emerged as the leading candidates to replace the Israeli air force's McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk advanced jet trainers.

The service is currently evaluating potential replacements for those Skyhawks still operated by its flight academy, but sources say the Italian and South Korean designs have attracted the greatest attention.

With the selection process continuing, Israel's two leading aerospace companies - Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries - are in contact with the manufacturers in an effort to find a way of participating in any future deal.

Replacing the A-4 is the second phase of a programme aimed at restructuring the Israeli flight academy's fleet. Earlier this year the first four of 20 Beechcraft T-6A trainers were delivered to begin replacing the CM-170 Zukit (Fouga Magister) that has been in use for the last several decades.

The Israeli air force has an inventory of 20 two-seat TA-4H/J trainers, according to Flight's MiliCAS database.

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