BAE Systems is promoting its new-generation Hawk advanced jet trainer at the ILA Berlin air show, as it anticipates breaking through 1,000 aircraft sold over the life of the programme.

The UK company’s last contract for the type – an eight-aircraft deal with Oman, signed in December 2012 – sees this total as currently standing at 999, also including 22 examples on order for Saudi Arabia.

“We are confident that we will be able to announce further orders that will take us through a significant milestone of 1,000 aircraft sold across the globe,” says BAE. “We are currently in discussion with a number of potential customers,” it adds, including in the Middle East. “We are aware that some European nations are also looking to replace their legacy training aircraft and believe that Hawk is well placed to meet these requirements.”

Another prospect lies with the Indian air force, with which BAE has already secured two contracts in partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics. “We have responded to a request received from HAL for the support to the licence manufacture of an additional 20 aircraft for the Indian air force aerobatic display team. Contract negotiations have commenced against an entry into service requirement of 2017,” it says.

One of the 28 Hawk T2s operated by the UK Royal Air Force's 4 Sqn is on static display at the show, accompanied by personnel from the unit and a BAE trailer exhibit. The latter is demonstrating its mission planning and debriefing systems, plus possible future enhancements, including a LiteHUD head-up display, and Striker digital helmet and Link 16 data link.

"The silhouette hasn't really changed, but what's under the skin is a really different beast," says Andy Blythe, BAE’s Hawk project pilot. "The Hawk T2 is the first trainer out there that's a fully digital aircraft, with sensor simulation," he notes. Pointing to the aircraft's ability to simulate the use of radar and electronic warfare systems, and also the threat posed by hostile fighters and surface-to-air missiles, he refers to it as like "a flying Playstation".

Such attributes are needed for BAE to be able to promote the Hawk with Northrop Grumman in advance of the US Air Force's potentially 350-aircraft T-X contest to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon. Competition will come from the Alenia Aermacchi/General Dynamics T-100 (based on the M-346), Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed T-50, and also a clean-sheet design being developed by Boeing and Saab.

The USAF currently plans to release a T-X request for proposals in fiscal year 2016, with a new type to enter service in 2023 and its last T-38s to leave use by 2029.

Early study work by the BAE/Northrop team has included looking at equipping the Hawk with new ejection seats and a replacement canopy, plus large-area multi-functional cockpit displays, like those found on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database records the current global fleet of Hawks at 632 active examples in use with 14 nations, including 197 Boeing/BAE T-45 Goshawks flown by the US Navy.

Source: Flight Daily News