INTERNATIONAL Turbine Engine (ITEC) has refused British Aerospace permission to offer the US engine maker's new F124 turbofan as a power plant option on the Hawk trainer in its bid to secure a $1 billion Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) lead-in fighter-trainer contract.

The F124 has been selected by McDonnell Douglas (MDC) as the primary engine for the T-45 Goshawk, which is being offered against the Hawk and the Aermacchi MB339FD for the contract.

The Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour 871, the standard power plant for the Hawk and US Navy T-45, is being offered as an option in the MDC bid. R-R also supplies the engine for the MB339.

Australian programme sources say that BAe asked ITEC to offer its engine on the Hawk in early February, shortly after MDC announced its switch.

ITEC, a joint venture between AlliedSignal Engines and Taiwan's Aero Industry Development Center (AIDC), says only that it " pleased to be included as the baseline engine for the MDC T-45 bid. ITEC looks forward as well to the opportunity to be the primary engine on the BAe Hawk in future competitions." The F124 has already been selected to power the Czech Republic's Aero L-159 light-combat aircraft. The engine is a non-after-burning version of the F125 powering Taiwan's AIDC A-1 Ching Kuo indigenous fighter.

BAe executives, were surprised by the ITEC decision, as the engine company made repeated visits, to the company in 1995, seeking a place on the Hawk.

Australian programme sources say that the turnaround is linked to ITEC's confidence in the T-45 bid and the knock-on effect this could have in future Asia-Pacific competitions. A win for the F124-powered T-45 in Australia would bolster ITEC's long-term plans to oust the Adour from USN T-45s.

F124 qualification costs, on the T-45, will be covered by ITEC and MDC, with the USN providing integration and acting, as the certificating authority. Although ITEC's efforts to unseat the Adour on USN aircraft failed in 1994, the engine company is mounting another campaign following reports that the USN is unhappy with the durability of the R-R engine.

The UK company confirms that "...meetings have taken place" over the durability issue with the USN, which recently awarded a contract to Astech/MCI of California to repair cracks in the T-45 engine nozzle. R-R says: "They are basically flying the aircraft a lot more than they expected. We pointed out that engine hours were above contract specification, and they agreed."

ITEC claims that the 28kN (6,300lb)-thrust F124 offers better performance and lower life-cycle costs than those of the Adour. It also says that the Adour is " the end of its life, while our engine is at the very beginning".

The engine news emerges as the three short-listed bidders submit new proposals in Australia. A final selection is scheduled for around the end of June.

Source: Flight International