BAE Systems' ubiquitous Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) faced an uncertain future earlier this decade, when the UK manufacturer's Brough manufacturing site in Yorkshire was at risk of being closed through a lack of orders.

However, with vital contracts now in hand to produce another 94 100-series aircraft for India and the UK, the company is seeking to build on the type's recent success by winning further business with new operators and some current Hawk users. The Hawk has been sold to 19 nations since entering service with the UK Royal Air Force in 1976, and also forms the basis for the US Navy's Boeing T-45A/C Goshawk carrier trainer.


Current promotional efforts are being made to support potential fresh sales to numerous countries, including Greece, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which last month shortlisted the type along with the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and the Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 to meet its AJT needs. BAE already has a memorandum of understanding in place with Greek firm Hellenic Aerospace Industry to support its Hawk offer to the country's air force.

The 100-series Hawk most recently entered service with Bahrain, which has now received its six Hawk 129s. Two of India's 66 Hawk 132s have so far carried out their first flights in the UK, where New Delhi's first 24 aircraft will be completed before production activities reach full capacity at Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).

The Indian air force is scheduled to take delivery of its first two Hawk AJT platforms in September, with pilots already receiving instruction in the UK using the RAF's Hawk T1/1As. Further air force and HAL test pilots will convert to the Hawk 132 at BAE's Warton site in Lancashire this year using around 200 flight hours on an initial three platforms. Other aircraft will be used for the instruction of Indian maintenance and engineering personnel.

One million hours

Two Hawk 128 development aircraft are also flying already in support of a 28-aircraft production commitment made by the UK last year. Its first aircraft will be delivered to RAF Valley in north Wales in August 2008, although a service source reveals that ab initio students are unlikely to fly the type until 2010. The UK's current Hawk T1/1A fleet last year passed the one million flying hour mark, and BAE earlier this month received a contract to support operations of the legacy type until its retirement during the next decade. The new Hawk 128 will feature emulated capabilities such as radar, electronic warfare equipment and weapons use, and will increase the download of training activities from operational conversion units for frontline strike aircraft types.

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Source: Flight International