(photo credit: courtesy)
The IAF has been forced to postpone the purchase of a new training aircraft for
pilot school cadets as the Israel Antitrust Authority reviews a proposal for
leading defense firms to buy the aircraft and lease it to the air
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The IAF and Defense Ministry had hoped to issue a Request for
Information for a South Korean and an Italian trainer aircraft, one of which it
would like to buy to replace its fleet of A-4 Skyhawks.
served prominently in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and in the First Lebanon War in
1982 but have for the past 20 years or so been used as advanced trainers for
cadets in the IAF pilot’s course after they complete their initial flight
training on turboprops.
The 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 Eagle.
T-50 can carry up to two pilots and, with a high-mounted canopy and tandem
seating, allows pilots superior visibility.
It is one of the best
trainers in the world. Last year, IAF pilots flew to South Korea to examine the
Closure of the deal has, however, been delayed by the Antitrust
Authority over concerns that a joint venture established by Elbit Systems Ltd.
and Israel Aerospace Industries to buy the aircraft and lease flight hours to
the IAF would create a monopoly and prevent fair market competition.
to budgetary constraints, the IAF was hoping that the companies would receive
approval from the Antitrust Authority to establish the joint venture and buy the
aircraft on behalf of the air force.
Defense officials said they were
confident that the Antitrust Authority would ultimately approve the joint
venture and allow the deal to move forward with the issuance of the Request for
The IAF wants to buy between 20 and 30 new aircraft.