The UK Ministry of Defence last week signed a long-anticipated production deal with BAE Systems to acquire a new fleet of 28 Hawk 128 advanced jet trainers (AJT). Worth £450 million ($835 million), the new contract covers the production of 26 Hawk 128s, with these to join two demonstrator aircraft already flying under an almost £160 million design and development contract awarded in December 2004. The current test aircraft will also be modified to production standard under the 19 October award.

The aircraft will be delivered from the third quarter of 2008, to replace part of the UK's current fleet of BAE Hawk T1/1A trainers for use during instruction of pilots for the Royal Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon and the future RAF/Royal Navy Joint Combat Aircraft - Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Signing of the AJT contract clears the way for the MoD to select from next month a training system partner for the UK Military Flying Training System. The three teams bidding for the requirement had voiced unease over entering into an agreement to deliver the service before a production order had been placed for the new Hawks.

Bahrain's first two of six Hawk 129 trainers were delivered on 17 October.

Source: Flight International