BAE Systems announced on Sept. 11 that it has teamed with Beechcraft and CAE to bid for the Australian Defence Force’s fixed-wing pilot training system.

John Quaife, BAE’s general manager for aviation solutions, said the team will provide a total flight training solution, based on Beechcraft’s T-6C Texan II turboprop trainer.
“Designed to meet the needs of undergraduate pilot training for the United States, Canada and other NATO air forces, the T-6C has amassed more than 2 million flying hours and has proven its ability as a versatile, cost-effective platform,” he said.

BAE Systems has provided services to Australia’s forces for flight screening and basic flying training since 1992 and won an AUS $88.8 million (US $83 million) Interim Basic Flying Training (IBFT) contract for a further six years in 2011. It also provides flying training and support in Australia for the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal Brunei Air Force and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.

The company is also teamed with Beechcraft in the US to support T-6-based pilot training for the US Navy.
The Australian pilot training system competition, known as Project AIR 5428, has been underway since 2005, but a formal request for tender was released in August.
The BAE Systems/Beechcraft/CAE team is the first to break cover in the current incarnation of Air 5428. Raytheon Australia was an earlier team member, but the company declined to provide details regarding its status.

“Raytheon Australia maintains the same active interest in the AIR 5428 program that it has demonstrated over the last decade,” was all the company was prepared to say and was not prepared to attribute the statement to an individual.

Similarly, Boeing Defence Australia is also interested in the competition, but said only “There are a number of opportunities that Boeing is focused on in Australia. For competitive reasons, however, we decline to comment on specific projects.”
The Pilatus PC-21 is the main competitor to the T-6C, but the Swiss company is yet to reveal its plans for the pilot training system.

AIR 5428 will replace the separate fixed-wing basic and advanced flying training programs with a single system that will take a candidate from flight screening to wings and will make significant use of simulation and other synthetic training aids.

The tender is due to close in February and the successful system will graduate its first students in early 2017.


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