The UAE is closely watching the developments of the multi-billion Mako programme before it makes a financial commitment with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co (EADS).

The Mako programme of EADS is developing the next-generation Advanced Training Aircraft (ATA) and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

The UAE is the only Gulf country to have signed an MoU with EADS although a few other Gulf states have shown interest in the programme.

Abdul Rahman Al Harmoudi, an instructor, demonstrating the cockpit simulator at the EADS stall. ©Gulf News
"The European Air Forces are looking at new next generation advanced jet trainer aircraft and Mako is one of the candidates.

"A selection of the aircraft is likely to be finalised by mid-2004 and the UAE is watching the launch customer with interest. After that it may make a financial commitment," Gerhard Labitsch, vice-president, Middle East-Maghreb, told Gulf News.

"There are discussions going on but at this point there is no financial commitment," he said, adding that EADS is keen that partners in the programme also undertake risk and revenue sharing.

The Mako programme has reached an advanced stage with several milestones achieved in the last two years. "We have completed the wind tunnel tests, the radar cross section tests, the airframe engineering (partly) and have selected the General Electric's GE414 engines," he said.

"The cockpit of the aircraft is also finalised and is currently displayed at the Air Show. The state-of-art Mako cockpit demonstrator proves the progress and the maturity of the Mako programme," he said, adding that the cockpit simulator is being demonstrated by two instructors, one being a UAE national.

Future developments include evaluation of the family of components and some other equipment and some decisions are likely to be finalised early next year.