Canadian Fighter Pilot Training Company To Buy FA-50 Light Combat Jets
The jets could be used for advanced pilot training, adversary, and other duties that the firm provides
TPS Canada Ltd, a commercial provider of tactical aviation training services, is poised to add the two-seat Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft to its roster, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Canadian firm and the jet’s manufacturer. The relationship, which ITPS officially announced yesterday, is described as serving to “promote the FA-50 for tactical and adversary training,” but the company plans to eventually entirely replace its legacy Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros jet trainer fleet with the type.
ITPS President Giorgio Clementi told The War Zone that his company plans to buy between eight and 12 examples of the South Korean FA-50 for the advanced training role. Like the Albatross, they will be based in Canada. As well as its five L-39Cs, the company also owns three Aero L-29 Delfins and two Hawker Hunters, all of which would potentially be superseded by the far more capable KA-50s.
“The KAI FA-50 is a great aircraft!” Clementi had said in an earlier company press release. “The aircraft’s performance, flying qualities, and mission capabilities make it the ideal platform for tactical and adversary training missions and a great fit for ITPS to replace our L-39 fleet. A new aircraft supported by the manufacturer and with the associated engineering and logistical support ensures reliable and cost-effective operations into the future.”
From its base at London International Airport in Ontario, ITPS presently runs its two divisions, the International Test Pilot School, one of only eight fully accredited test pilot schools in the world, and the International Tactical Training Center, or ITTC, which it claims is the only commercial setup currently offering advanced fighter pilot training. Its syllabuses include Fighter Weapons Instructor Courses, Advanced Tactics Courses, and Mission Commander qualifications.
ITPS has provided tactical training since 2001 and its ITTC division offers courses tailored to international customers who may either struggle to provide it themselves or require additional expertise or capacity. Currently, clients include the Royal Malaysian Air Force, pilots of which receive Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) at London International. Previous ITPS customers for tactical training include the Indonesian Air Force, the Royal Thai Air Force, and the Pakistan Air Force.
Other major ITPS customers come from industry, for example from global aerospace giant Airbus, which recently chose the Canadian firm to provide three years of training for its in-house test pilot and lead flight-test engineers, due to begin in January 2021.
As previously noted, the ITTC fleet today is based around the two-seat L-39, a jet trainer that dates back to communist-era Czechoslovakia, when it equipped most Warsaw Pact air forces, as well as others aligned with that bloc. However, the Cold War jet remains in widespread use as a trainer and “red air” adversary aircraft, including in the United States, as it is robust and straightforward to maintain. Just as importantly, it lends itself to avionics upgrades to better represent modern fighter jet cockpits [lots more]...