A request for proposals (RfPs) for eight to 10 jet trainers is expected to be released by Thailand next month, according to an Alenia Aermacchi executive. (Wikipedia)
SINGAPORE — Thailand is the next regional target for the M-346 jet trainer maker Alenia Aermacchi, according to Giovanni Timossi, the company's vice president of sales in Asia.
A request for proposals (RfPs) for eight to 10 jet trainers is expected to be released next month, he said. No other advanced trainer RfPs are in the pipeline for the region at the moment, said Timossi.
The South Korean T-50 provides the main opposition in the region, having already scored a deal in Indonesia and been selected in the Philippines.
Indonesia is also looking at reviving the BAE Systems Hawk jet trainer fleet it has had in the inventory for years.
The British had a team in the country earlier this year to look at what is required to restore the Hawk to former levels of availability, according to BAE executives. BAE said there is no prospect of an upgrade to the 32 Hawks remaining in the Indonesian fleet at this time.
A spokesman for the British company said BAE also expects to bid for the Thai deal, subject to seeing the actual requirements.
Gearing up for the Thai competition comes as Alenia Aermacchi heads for completion next month of deliveries to Singapore of 12 M-346s. The company said at the Singapore Airshow this week that 10 aircraft and relevant ground-based training systems from an order placed in 2010 had so far been delivered. The final two aircraft will arrive by March.
Singapore deliveries end at nearly the same time as the first M-346 is delivered to Israel, which has ordered 30.
Alenia Aermacchi is forecasting a world market for about 1,500 advanced trainer aircraft between 2012 and 2031 and reckons it can secure orders for up to 700 of those aircraft with the M-346.
Around 30 percent of the market is in Asia and Oceania, with Europe taking the lion’s share at just under half.
The market should reach its order peak between 2022 and 2026. The Italian company is forecasting advanced trainer orders at more than 500 units during that period, driven by efforts to replace aging fleets of existing aircraft and the increasing introduction of new-generation fighters, officials said.
All the market figures exclude the US, Russia and China.
Alenia Aermacchi is already on the way to its 700-sales target with company officials “expecting good news from Poland in the next few weeks,” Timossi said.
The M-346 was the de facto the winner of a Polish competition recently when the aircraft was the only platform to meet the first phase of the procurement process. Timossi said the company had passed all further exam questions to date on the way to a deal.
The Poles are buying eight aircraft initially but have a requirement for a further four machines.
The downside, predictably, remains the UAE deal, or lack of a deal. The M-346’s selection in 2009 has not been followed up by an order and the deal remains frozen. ■