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 buying a new home-made aircraft to replace the old CASA C-101 and F-5 trainer jets, a local source told us. 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 (not later than 2025).

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

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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