In a surprise development ahead of November's Dubai air show, BAE Systems has confirmed that its Hawk 128 advanced jet trainer has been eliminated from a contest to equip the United Arab Emirates air force.

Already in production for the UK Royal Air Force, the Hawk 128 had been shortlisted against Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 and the Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 for the UAE requirement, which will lead to the acquisition of a new fleet of AJTs to replace its current Hawk-series aircraft.

"We have been informed that we are no longer in the competition," says BAE, which told its Military Air Solutions employees of the news on 29 October. The company sent its two Hawk 128 development aircraft to the UAE for a two-week evaluation during August.

 Hawk 128
© BAE Systems

The Hawk's rejection comes at an embarrassing time for the company, which will have a large presence at the Dubai show, with the RAF to also deploy its Red Arrows display team to participate in the event.

The UAE has also assessed the Alenia Aermacchi M-311, Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano and Pilatus PC-21 for its basic training requirements, but UK Ministry of Defence sources had recently suggested that a selection was not likely to take place until early 2008.

Read our flight test reports on the M-346 and T-50 trainers.