BAE Systems is on track to deliver the UK's first of 28 Hawk 128 advanced jet trainers in August, and maintains that the type has strong long-term sales potential, despite its recent elimination from a contest in the United Arab Emirates and an orderbook that is on course to run dry next year.

The first series production-standard Hawk 128 has had its fifth and final software load introduced and its Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour 951 engine installed, says Mike Corfield, BAE's UK AJT programme director. "We've proven all the hardware and the software now, and are pretty much just going through the final clearances," he adds.

BAE expects to achieve the aircraft's "power on" milestone this month, before a first flight in June and its scheduled release to service in August. Two more 128s are awaiting equipment installation, and the UK's final example entered its assembly jigs last December and be delivered late next year.

UK pilots and technicians will start conversion training on the new aircraft at BAE's Warton site in Lancashire in September, ahead of the type's entry into squadron service at Royal Air Force base Valley in north Wales. The company also expects to conclude talks with the Ministry of Defence within the next few months on providing through-life support for the new fleet, with this to build on its existing integrated operational support deal on the UK's current Hawk T1/1A trainers.

BAE, also seeking export business for the 128, will display its comparable Hawk new development aircraft at this month's Singapore air show. The aircraft will then remain in the country to support further evaluation by its Defence Science and Technology Agency as part of a three-way AJT contest. Similar work was recently conducted with Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 and the Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50.

BAE is also eyeing emerging Hawk prospects in Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, says business development executive Steve Wearden, with a possible manufacturing joint venture also being considered with India's Hindustan Aeronautics (Flight International, 8-14 January). The company also hopes to secure a follow-on order to build fuselages for additional US Navy Boeing T-45 Goshawks beyond a current production deal that will conclude in mid-2009. "There is a strategy with the T-45 going forward," says Wearden.


Source: Flight International