Egypt in search of new trainer aircraft

The Egyptian Air force (EAF) is in the market for a new trainer aircraft to replace its aging fleet and to train its student pilots for the newly delivered Rafale fighter jet, and incoming Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet.

Egypt’s trainer aircraft that are likely to be listed for replacement or upgrade are the Grob G115EG, EMB312 Tucano’s, and the Karakorum K-8Es.

EAF Grob G115EG

Several aircraft manufacturers have indicated interest to supply training aircraft, with Grob Aircraft, Sierra Nevada, Aero Vodochody and Leonardo already negotiating.

Germany’s Grob Aircraft is planning to supply Grob G120TP turboprops, while US firm Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is pitching their A-29 Super Tucano.

The Egyptian Air Force is already familiar with the predecessor of the G120TP, the G115EG. Eighty Grob G116 basic trainers have been delivered since 2000. They are assigned to the 101 Training Wing with 3sq and 5sq at Bilbays air base (Egypt).

On the other hand, fifty EMB312 Tucano’s basic trainers were acquired by Egypt in the 1980s. They are based at Bilbays but assigned to 201 Training Wing with 83sq, 84 and 85sq.

According to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the A-29 Super Tucano can replace the EMB312 as basic trainer as well as the slowly ageing over K-8Es advanced trainers in Egypt.

Egypt operates over one hundred Chinese-made K-8s, based at El Minya air base (Egypt) and assigned to the 201 Training Wing with 28sq and 29sq fast jet training squadrons. El Minya also houses the K-8E equipped Silver Stars display team.

EAF Karakorum K-8Es

For the K-8 replacement, Italian Leonardo is offering its M346 Master advanced combat trainer aircraft as part of a $10 billion weapons mega-deal signed in 2020 Egypt. The deal includes another four frigates, 20 corvettes based on the Falaj class that Fincantieri built for the United Arab Emirates, 24 Eurofighter Typhoon multirole jets, 24 M346 jet trainers, and a surveillance satellite.

Leonardo’s M-346 trainer jet and fighter attack version. (Courtesy of Leonardo)
Leonardo’s M-346 trainer jet and fighter attack version. (Courtesy of Leonardo)

Leonardo, a member of the EuroFighter Consortium, which builds the Typhoon fighter jet is also aggressively marketing the M-346 to MENA customers.

There is an increasing need for trainer jets in the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region as countries there work to expand their fighter fleets. The MENA nations have requirements for trainers also able to perform close‐air support missions,” said Marco Buratti, Leonardo’s senior vice president of international marketing and strategic campaigns during an interview with Defense News.

Another manufacturer vying for the K-8 replacement is Czech Aero Vodochody, offering the brand-new L-39NG.

Egypt already operates a dozen L-39 Albatros’ since the early 90’s, and Aero Vodochody is leaning on this to market the Albatros.

Aero vodochody L-39NG aircraft
Aero vodochody L-39NG aircraft

Although, Egypt has since retired its L-39 Albatros fleet, which could dampen Aero Vodochody’s prospect, but the aircraft maker is relying on the proven success of the L-39 aircraft series in the international market scale ahead.

In April 2018, the Senegalese Air Force acquired four Aero Vodochody L-39NG Albatross fighter trainer jets. The first L-39NG airframe has been completed and has undergone several test flights. In October 2019, Senegalese Chief of Air Staff, General Joseph Mamadou Diop even took the light attack and trainer prototype for a spin.

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