In 1979 the RAAF issued a requirement for a new Basic Trainer aircraft. In response, in 1981 the three major aircraft companies [Hawker de Havilland, Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Government Aircraft Factories], formed the Australian Aircraft Consortium to design and develop this aircraft, called the A-10 Wamira [not A1 OB].
The RAAF, which expressed an intention to buy 69 aircraft, specified a turboprop trainer of broadly conventional tricycle undercarriage low-wing monoplane layout, to be powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-25C engine. Unusually however its two seats were to be in a side-by-side configuration. The RAAF also specified that the type be fully aerobatic; be capable of cross-country navigation and weapons training; and have a 200 kt cruising speed at Sea Level, and a minimum service life of 20 years and 8,000 flying hours. AAC signed a Design and Development contract in June 1982.
Two versions were in fact studied - the A-10 and A-20, the later one with a more powerful turbo-propellor engine reflecting changing Air Force training needs. The specification was demanding and, for the first time in Australia, the aircraft was to be designed to full military specifications. The problem that soon emerged from the consortuim approach was that there was no one single authority leading the program. Management decisions were split and shared, and the RAAF had a direct voice in the development of the aircraft. Throughout, the close involvement of the Service in the project meant that the level of detailed design was constantly being raised without clear indications of the cost consequences.
Due to various problems, project milestones slipped and costs increased. On 16 December 1985, as the A-10 prototype emerged from final assembly, the government cancelled the Australian program and ordered the Swiss Pilatus PC09. Projected cost had risen from the original A$150 million to A$380 million. By the time the Government decided to review the entire project, the Government, the RAAF, and industry were equally relieved that the ball had been stopped from rolling away with itself.
One airframe was built and is in display at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria. With the cancellation of the 70 airframes from the Australian Government, AAC lost at least a further 200 export orders from Great Britain, France and other potential orders. The Consortium's design team rapidly dissolved, and Austrlia's aeronautical design capabilities were crippled for the next decade.
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