Advanced trainer manufacturers have divergent views of the market over the next 20-30 years. Those with new aircraft in development tend to predict a need for between 2,000 and 3,200. BAE is less optimistic, restricting its outlook to 15 years and predicting a market of 1,500 aircraft, and suggesting it can claim 400-500 sales.

The latest customer is Bahrain, which signed a deal this month. BAE declines to reveal aircraft numbers, but the order is probably for six aircraft, although this could be doubled in the medium term. India is a near-term potential customer. Defence minister Georges Fernandes said in 2000 that the Hawk had been selected for a 66-aircraft deal, but negotiations have been slow. If the Hawk is successful, Hindustan Aeronautics will set up a production line to build 42 aircraft. Another 80 Hawks may be needed to fulfil the air force's needs.

NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) is a Hawk operator and additional NFTC customers could lead to orders. Canada may also replace the Snowbirds aerobatic team's Canadair CT-114 Tutors with up to 12 Hawks.

Europe provides a range of potential customers, including Finland, the original export customer, which could require 24 aircraft from 2008. Although Finland's present aircraft have significant remaining airframe hours, a pending mid-life update of the air force's Boeing F/A-18 Hornets and other factors present BAE with an opportunity, says Rowlands.

Also in Europe, Slovakia has a requirement for 10 advanced trainer/light strike aircraft. Any competition could hinge on the result of talks with the Czech Republic linked to joint air defence of the two countries. The Czech-built Aero Vodochody L-159 is likely to be the Hawk's principal competitor in Slovakia.

Greece, Poland and Romania also have long-term trainer requirements. Any contest to replace Greece's Rockwell T-2 Buckeye trainers is likely to be delayed until after the 2004 Olympic Games and conclusion of a fighter deal, predicted as a 90-aircraft order for Eurofighter Typhoons. Greece's need is for 34 trainers.

Poland has a long-running requirement for 20 aircraft. Its recent selection of the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D and tentative proposals to turn the Deblin aviation academy into an Eastern European equivalent of the NFTC mean its trainer requirement is pressing. Romania may acquire 12 trainers, and has been briefed on the Hawk, says Rowlands. Romania also harbours ambitions to operate an east European NFTC.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates continues to be a potential customer, while Egypt and Israel have long-running, but apparently stalled, trainer requirements. Abu Dhabi and Dubai separately ordered Hawk 60s in the 1980s while the former also has Hawk 100s. The pending arrival of F-16C/D Block 60s and the UAE's failure to continue with the EADS Mako programme augur well for BAE, but observers believe the UAE is likely to take some or all of Switzerland's 19 Hawk 60s, which are for sale.

In Asia-Pacific, existing customer Malaysia needs an attrition purchase of perhaps 15 aircraft, while Thailand initiated a programme last year to replace three existing types with a single aircraft, which would be used for light strike as well as advanced training. Other opportunities in the region are Brunei - which selected the Hawk, but never concluded a deal for eight to 12 aircraft - and the Philippines, which needs 16 aircraft.

Elsewhere, Colombia seeks 12 advanced trainer/light attack aircraft, while Botswana requires 12 light attack aircraft.

Source: Flight International