In November 2005, Israel’s Ministry Of Defense (GOI/MOD) announced its interest in replacing the IAF “Zukit” (“Thrush,” an upgraded 1950s-era Fouga Magister) basic training aircraft with a new trainer. The Zukit’s high fuel and maintenance costs, and low mission capable rates were all creating issues. The intent was to execute this program using an RFI concept, including a comprehensive test and evaluation phase of candidate aircraft, which would then be taken into account during a potential RFP stage.
Israel is secretive about its defense undertakings, and nothing was heard for a long while. Possible candidates included the IAI/ATG Javelin, Romania’s IAR-99C Soim, and possibly even the Czech L159 Albatros, which remained on the market at an excellent price. The winner? “None of the above.” The lure of using American aid dollars instead of hard currency, combined with advertised operating economies, eventually decided the competition in favor of an American-built turboprop: Hawker Beechcraft’s T-6A Texan II, which is used in this same role by the US military.