British Aerospace has named Qantas, Hawker de Havilland, Hunter Aerospace and maintenance group AirFlite as its major partners in a 16-company line-up for the supply and support of up to 40 Hawk 100 lead-in fighter (LIF) trainers for Australia.

The Hawks are shortlisted as replacements for the RAAF's Aermacchi MB-326H trainers, in competition with the McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk and Aermacchi MB-339.

Under a plan unveiled by BAe on 3 April, Australian companies will secure long-term service and manufacturing contracts worth more than $1 billion from the package. It is expected that the first squadron of 12 aircraft will be ready for service by January 2000.

BAe proposes that up to 20 LIF Hawks will be assembled in Australia by Hunter, which is located at Newcastle Airport, adjacent to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Williamtown base, where about half the new trainers will be based.

Qantas will assemble, test and provide through-life maintenance and repairs to the Hawk's Rolls- Royce Adour engine; Hawker de Havilland will manufacture the tailplane, rudder and aileron; AirFlite will maintain and repair seats and ejection systems at the RAAF's second jet-training base in Pearce, Western Australia; and British Aerospace Australia will manufacture and maintain advanced avionics components.

The tender also commits the company to build and manage a contractor support base at Williamtown, where specialist companies will maintain and repair Hawk airframes and components.

In its request for tender for a new lead-in fighter, the RAAF specifies that the aircraft will be used for advanced flying training, weapons and tactical training and training support for the Army and Navy.

BAe is offering a Hawk customised to meet Australia's requirement for a cockpit environment similar to that of the McDonnell Douglas F-18, to minimise conversion training of pilots graduating to the frontline aircraft.

Source: Flight International