Spain looks to homemade trainer aircraft, is on right path?

Spanish looks homemade trainer aircraft
Spanish looks to homemade trainer aircraft to replace CASA C-101 trainer jet.

According to our local source, the Spanish MoD is evaluating to buy an homemade aircraft to replace the aging CASA C-101 and F-5 trainer jets. The news is surprising because the development of a new aircraft takes a long time and the nation needs to introduce a new jet soon (not later than 2025).

Airbus, the main Spanish aerospace company, currently has no military training aircraft in its portfolio and should start a new project. The lead time is not the only problem considering that the development process of a new platform is very expensive and Spain does not need a large number of aircraft. Furthermore, market opportunities are limited because the armed forces that are looking for new jet trainers can not wait for a long time and there are many proven solutions available.

The past cases are not in favor of the Iberian company. The last Spanish-made trainer jet, the CASA C-101 Aviojet, suffered few interest abroad: only 45 aircraft were sold outside Spain (35 to Chile, 16 to Jordan and only 4 to Honduras). These are few numbers compared to those of competitors at the time: Aermacchi sold over 230 MB-339 jets and BAE Systems over 400 Hawks.

Surely the best and cheapest way is to buy an aircraft from an aerospace company able to provide a ready-to-use and well-tested system, such as the Leonardo’s M-346. In fact, Spain has already shown an interest in the Italian aircraft and on the occasion of the San Javier Air Show 2018, the Italian Air Force showed its T-346A in the air and on the ground (More details here).

Alternatively, Airbus could establish a partnership with an aerospace company to obtain the project know-how and then produce the aircraft on its plants. This way would guarantee an economic sustenance to the company and to the nation.

The C-101 and F-5 trainer aircraft entered the Ejercito del Aire fleet in the 1980s.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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