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.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense appears to be considering the purchase of a new home-made aircraft to replace the aging CASA C-101 and F-5 trainer jets, according to our local source. The news is quite surprising as the development of a new platform takes a long time and the nation needs to introduce a new aircraft soon (by 2025).

Airbus, Spain's leading aerospace company, currently has no military trainer aircraft in its portfolio and should therefore start a new project. Timing is not the only problem as developing a new aircraft is very expensive and Spain does not need large quantities. Furthermore, opportunities abroad would be limited as air forces looking for new jet trainers cannot wait long and the market offers many proven solutions.

Past cases are not favorable to the Spanish company. The last Spanish-made trainer jet, the CASA C-101 Aviojet, was not very successful 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 its competitors at the time: Aermacchi sold over 230 MB-339s and BAE Systems over 400 Hawks.

The best and cheapest way is to buy an aircraft from an aerospace company that can supply an off-the-shelf and well-proven system, such as Leonardo's M-346. Spain has already shown interest in the "made in Italy" aircraft which also participated in the flying and ground display at the San Javier Air Show 2018 (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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