McDONNELL DOUGLAS (MDC) was planning to begin ground runs of a T-45A Goshawk trainer re-engined with the AlliedSignal F124 turbofan as Flight International went to press.

Its first flight is due on 16 September. The F124-powered T-45 is being offered to meet the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) Lead In Fighter (LIF) requirement.

The LIF selection has been delayed until October-November, giving MDC and AlliedSignal an opportunity to demonstrate the F124 in the T-45 before the RAAF makes its decision. MDC says that it picked the F124 over the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour for powering the T-45 because of its increased thrust and serviceability, but there are questions over its compatibility with the airframe.

MDC and AlliedSignal are paying to qualify the engine on the T-45, with the US Navy acting as an "honest broker". Despite the delay in a decision, the RAAF wants the LIF to enter service in 1999, replacing Aermacchi MB326Hs. Competing against MDC are Aermacchi with the MB339FD and British Aerospace with the Adour-powered Hawk 100.

MDC believes that the T-45 has a considerable life-cycle-cost advantage over the Hawk because of the Goshawk's longer, 14,400h, fatigue life, which the company says compares with 7,000h for the Hawk. The T-45 is a navalised version of the Hawk developed for the US Navy.

MDC says that potential export customers include Argentina and Brazil, both of which could require a lead-in fighter trainer with carrier-landing capability.

Source: Flight International