The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has opted to stay with the Rolls-Royce/ Turboméca Adour engine for its planned fleet of British Aerospace Hawk 100 lead-in fighters, rather than switch to the alternative ITEC F124 powerplant proposed by AlliedSignal.

Its decision follows BAe Australia's (BAeA) recent submission of an independent evaluation of both engines. "BAeA ran the competition and the RAAF evaluated their response-it was a very fine call," says the Australian Department of Defence.

Various factors are thought to have influenced Australia, including adherence to the lead-in fighter programme's original timetable and the avoidance of any high level of risk, which could affect deliveries and cost.

The RAAF wants to take delivery of its first 12 Hawks between June and December 1999. BAe and R-R have now to begin negotiations with the air force on finalising the system specification and concluding a contract.

R-R has offered Australia four versions of its 26kN (5,900lb)-thrust Adour Mk871 engine, with a range of optional improvements from which to choose (Flight International, 26 February-4 March).

Apart from the baseline Mk871 engine, as fitted to Malaysia's and Oman's Hawk 100s, there are the options of adding a Hamilton Standard full-authority digital -engine-control (FADEC) system, new life-enhancing hot-section materials or incorporating both.

The US Navy is already looking at fitting the FADEC to its F405 version of the Adour, which powers the T-45 Goshawk trainer, as well as extending the use of single-crystal alloys from the engine's low-pressure turbine to aft high- pressure turbine and nozzle guide-vanes for extended durability.

R-R hopes that the Australian decision will sway other potential Hawk operators. Some countries have been watching the RAAF programme before deciding. These include Canada and South Africa, which are understood to have been given a copy of the Australian request-for-tender document.

Source: Flight International