The Israel Air Force has issued an official request for information from Korean
and Italian aerospace companies for new training aircraft that pilot school
cadets would use before advancing to combat jets.
The request was issued
several weeks ago after it was delayed due to the Antitrust Authority’s concerns
that a proposal for leading industries to buy the aircraft and lease them to the
air force was illegal.
The two leading candidates to replace the Skyhawk
are Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi M- 346 transonic trainer aircraft, in use in Italy
and Singapore, and the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50 Golden
The T-50 can carry two pilots and, with a high-mounted canopy and
tandem seating, allows them superior visibility. It is one of the best trainers
in the world. In recent weeks, IAF pilots have traveled to South Korea and Italy
to fly the planes and evaluate their performance.
IAF sources said they
were impressed by both aircraft.
According to one officer, the T-50 was
particularly impressive because of its similarity to the F-16 fighter jet, which
makes up the bulk of the IAF’s fleet.
The Skyhawk served prominently in
the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and in the First Lebanon War in 1982, but has been
used for the past 20 years or so as an advanced trainer for cadets in the IAF
pilots’ course after they complete their initial flight training on turboprops.