ALLIEDSIGNAL AND McDonnell Douglas (MDC) are to continue with a planned flight-test programme of the F124 turbofan in the T-45A Goshawk, despite being dropped from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) lead-in fighter competition.

The decision to reject the US aircraft leaves only the Aermacchi MB339 FD and British Aerospace's Hawk 100 - on which the T-45 is based - as contenders. The Australians had earlier rejected several contenders for a requirement likely to involve supplying between 35 and 45 aircraft.

The T-45 was due to have its first flight with the F124 in the week beginning 16 September, as Flight International went to press. "It's still going to happen," says one source, although neither company will comment officially on the flight test programme, or the specific reasons for the Australian decision.

The RAAF is believed to have turned down the MDC proposal on three grounds: price, workshare and data disclosure. The individual unit price of the T-45A version being offered is understood to have been up to A$1.5 million ($1.2 million) higher than that of the nearest competitor. Workshare was also below that detailed in the other proposals, despite AlliedSignal's offer to have the entire F124 assembled in-country and delivered from Australia to other users, such as the Czech Aero Vodochody Aero L-159. Data disclosure over systems and software used in the proposed cockpit layout is also believed to have been a problem.

MDC and AlliedSignal are paying to qualify the F124-powered T-45A, with the US Navy acting as "honest broker" (Flight International, 28 August-3 September). Before the RAAF decision was known, many believed that the delay in the Australian selection to October-November was tied to the completion of the F124 test programme. AlliedSignal has been pressing for the demonstration for some time as part of its effort to oust the indigenous Rolls-Royce Turbom,ca Adour 871 from the US Navy's T-45A fleet. Officially, AlliedSignal says that it is continuing to "-explore options with McDonnell Douglas".

Source: Flight International