BAE Systems has withdrawn its Hawk advanced jet trainer from a Polish air force competition, narrowing the field to four bidders.
Confirming its decision on 14 June, the UK company attributed its action to the contents of Poland's recently released request for proposals for 16 new lead-in fighter trainers. This outlined a requirement for an aircraft equipped with a long-range fire-control radar and capable of deploying laser- and GPS-guided bombs.
BAE said it withdrew due to "Poland prioritising combat capability rather than a pilot training system". The company had been promoting a version of its Hawk 128/T2, which is now in use with the UK Royal Air Force and is also being promoted for the US Air Force's pending T-X contest.
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Four rivals remain in contention for the Polish contract. Aero Vodochody is offering its L-159T1, Alenia Aermacchi the M-346, Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin the T-50P, and Patria upgraded ex-Finnish air force Hawk 51/51As. But given the contents of the RFP, the M-346 and T-50 look to be the most realistic candidates.
Final offers are due by 29 July, with the air force hoping to sign a contract late this year or in early 2012.
The selected type will provide a secondary air combat capability beneath the Polish air force's frontline fleet of 48 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52 fighters, and also deliver pilot training services.