Still reeling from its recent rejection by the United Arab Emirates, BAE Systems is assessing its long-term production prospects for the Hawk advanced jet trainer, with a joint venture deal with India's Hindustan Aeronautics among options being considered.

The UK manufacturer was informed last October that its Hawk 128 proposal had been eliminated from the UAE's up to 24-aircraft AJT requirement, narrowing the contest to Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 and the Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50. The Hawk remains on offer against the same rivals to meet a similar requirement in Singapore, but BAE's managing director training solutions Mark Parkinson last month described the UAE's decision as marking "a crossroads for the Hawk programme".

While Parkinson said BAE "has confidence in the Hawk AJT", he added: "We are now looking at the strategy for Hawk as a long-term sustainable through-life business."

 Hawk 132 India
© BAE Systems

HAL chairman Ashok Baweja early this month told India's Mint newspaper that the Bangalore-based company is in the initial stages of exploring a joint venture with BAE, under which production and maintenance, repair and overhaul work on Hawk trainers for the international market could take place in India. BAE declines to comment on the report, but confirms that it will "evaluate all options" as part of its current trainer programme review.

If confirmed, the tie-up would expand the firms' current co-operation on the Indian air force's 66 Hawk 132 AJTs. BAE late last year delivered its first two of 24 UK-built aircraft to the India's Bidar air base, while HAL is scheduled to hand over its first two of 42 examples in March.

Any decision to shift global production of the Hawk airframe to India would have implications for BAE's Brough facility in Yorkshire. The company says it is developing a business plan intended to generate long-term stability at the site, while "removing reliance on the Hawk programme". Final assembly of the UK's first of 28 Hawk 128s began at the facility last month, with the aircraft due for delivery before year-end.


Source: Flight International