BAE Systems has revealed a tentative order from Qatar for six examples of its Hawk trainer, but the manufacturer is cutting output of the type, as well as of the Eurofighter Typhoon, in a bid to maintain production into the next decade.
Qatar in late September signalled its intention to order 24 Typhoons, in a deal which also includes six Hawks, says BAE.
Currently being assembled for Oman and Saudi Arabia, Hawk production is secure until 2019, says the airframer.
With the proposed slowdown, and the addition of the Qatari aircraft to the backlog, BAE will be able to maintain its Warton final assembly activities for the trainer until 2021. However, the company cautions that it needs to receive a firm order from the Gulf state next year to avoid a break in production.
BAE is in a slightly stronger position on the Typhoon, where it is assembling further aircraft for the UK Royal Air Force and the remaining 10 examples for Oman to complete its 12-strong order. In addition, it is building forward fuselage sections for the 28 aircraft ordered by Kuwait, which will be assembled by Eurofighter consortium member Leonardo in Italy.
Flight Fleets Analyzer records the current Typhoon backlog for the four partner nations of Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK as totalling 36 aircraft.
BAE says it is actively competing for additional orders for both types, with a follow-on deal with existing Typhoon operator Saudi Arabia still thought to be likely. Riyadh has already received the last of the 72 aircraft contained in its Project Salam acquisition.
As part of the production slowdown, BAE will make 1,400 redundancies at five facilities across its restructured Military Air & Information business. These will fall at production sites in Brough, East Yorkshire – which performs major engineering activities for the Hawk – and Samlesbury and Warton in Lancashire. In addition, with the retirement of the UK's Panavia Tornado GR4 fleet from 2019, support and sustainment roles will also be lost at RAF Leeming in Yorkshire and RAF Marham in Norfolk.