26 June, 2012 by Dave Majumdar – FG
Washington DC - The Royal Canadian Air Force confirms that it has started to look for a new jet trainer to replace its current fleet of BAE Systems CT-155 Hawk aircraft.
"The RCAF is currently working on an assessment of training system options that could be incorporated into the RCAF future fighter lead-in training concept," the service says.
The RCAF is consulting industry to find out what aircraft and training technologies might be available to Canada as the country moves forward with its planned purchase of the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
"The intent of this consultation is to further the ongoing work towards establishing the preferred future lead-in training concept for the RCAF to prepare our military pilots for the Next Generation Fighter," the RCAF says.
The Canadian government has recently started to refer to the F-35 procurement as the Next Generation Fighter largely due to controversy over the jet's disputed price tag. Recriminations over the cost figures have been flying between the government and opposition parties for months.
Nonetheless, Canada needs to start looking a new aircrew training system to match the training demands of a new generation of fighter aircraft.
"We are in the process of consulting with the industry for information to gather general information on current/forecast training capabilities," the RCAF says. "This consultation includes not only aircraft specific information but information on ground based training systems and growth capabilities associated with potential aircraft."
A number of potential contractors have already been approached including BAE Systems and Alenia Aeronautica, Korean Aerospace International's T-50 could also be in the running.
Meanwhile, the US Air Force's nascent T-X programme to replace the ageing Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon jet trainer has been postponed due to budget cuts.