BAE Systems says its desire to avoid the project overrun mistakes of the past lie behind the delay in signing the Hawk 128 design and development contract with the UK Ministry of Defence at the show.

Mark Parkinson, managing director of Hawk for BAE, says a contract signing was "what everyone had hoped for", but that there are still several minor details to be finalised. The company had to pay the MoD compensation over severe delays to two major programmes, the Astute-class submarine and Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft, and says it would rather define a "realistic timeframe" at the contract stage than be caught again. "Astute and Nimrod gave us a bad reputation for delivery, so we are determined to set off on the right foot this time," says Parkinson. A final deal is expected "within a month", he adds.

The MoD signed an £800 million ($1.5 billion) deal with BAE on behalf of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy for 20 Hawk firm orders and options on a further 24 aircraft in August last year, with initial deliveries in 2008. Parkinson says he is confident there will be no revised schedule as a result of the prolonged contract talks, and insists that the delivery deadline is realistic.

 "We've gone through the production schedule, based on the past three Hawk cycles and we know how much time we need," he says. There have been limited changes in the project's scope, he adds.

The technical definition phase now includes a phase one instrument landing system training component.


Source: Flight International