February 25, 2009, Abu Dhabi -- A competition to secure a multi-billion dollar deal for advanced jet trainers to the United Arab Emirates air force has gone to Alenia Aermacchi.
The M-346 jet was named the winner of a competition by a UAE Ministry of Defence official Maj. Gen. Obaid Al Ketbi, speaking at the IDEX 2009 defense show here in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 25.
The official said the order involved delivery of 48 aircraft to be used for pilot training and light attack duties.
The European jet trainer was pitched against the Korean Aerospace Industries T-50 in a selection battle that has run on for several years.
Contract details were not available. Ketbi said negotiations concluding the deal were ongoing, and he couldn't at this time give a value for the deal.
The split in aircraft numbers between trainer and light attack aircraft was not immediately available.
One executive familiar with the negotiations earlier told Defense News a final request for proposals last year had set the requirement at 20 trainers, 20 aircraft for combat duties, and the remainder would go toward the creation of a formation flying team.
Some of the light attack aircraft would also likely be dual use for parts of the training curriculum, he said.
Originally, the request for proposals covered the purchase of 33 trainers with an option for seven more aircraft.
Recently the number of aircraft up for grabs has been significantly increased.
Alenia is also involved in a parallel competition here that has seen its M-311 competing against the Pilatus PC-21 turboprop in an all-European fight to provide a basic trainer.
Ketbi said a decision on that requirement remained under consideration. The decision may take some time, he said.
Aermacchi is in talks with the UAE authorities over setting up a joint venture here, with a view to final assembly of the trainer aircraft, chief executive Consentino Carmelo told journalists.
All the training would take place "in country" rather elsewhere, as some customers require, he said. "There's plenty of space," he added.
Now that the selection has been made, the contract negotiations can begin. The talks will include the provision of a cost effective and integrated syllabus that would take UAE pilots from primary basic flying to advanced training. The initial requirement had been for an advanced trainer, but it had evolved to light attack missions, Carmelo said.
The total package would also include ground based training and a logistics support, he said.(defensenews)
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