Dubai Air Show

Deliveries to Bahrain continue Hawk push into the Middle East

 - December 12, 2006, 6:30 AM

Deliveries of six Hawk Mk 129s to the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) by BAE Systems beginning in the middle of next year will highlight the company’s continuing efforts to promote its advanced jet trainer in the highly competitive Middle East market. On August 26, the first of six aircraft destined for Bahrain made its first flight at BAE’s Warton facility in the UK.

The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Oman have all been identified by BAE Systems as potential targets for the latest versions of the Hawk trainer, signaling that the Middle East will be a key market for advanced jet trainers over the next decade. More sales to Bahrain are also a target for BAE Systems, although the UK group says it does not currently have active campaigns ongoing in the region.

The appearance of Korean Aerospace’s T-50 Golden Eagle jet trainer here at the Dubai airshow further raises the stakes in the battle to win orders in the lucrative Middle East trainer market. BAE Systems is displaying its Hawk avionics cockpit demonstrator at Dubai 2005 (Stand W300) because its two Hawk demonstrator aircraft are actively involved in development work, said a company spokesman.

Steve Wearden, a BAE Hawk marketing executive, told Aviation International News that the Hawk has been at the forefront of the advanced jet trainer and light combat aircraft market for many years.

“The aircraft has been continually developed to meet the needs of air forces worldwide, offering a low-risk solution, proven and with inherent growth capability,” he said. “Investment has ensured that the aircraft has been positioned to maintain the market lead. Developments have been driven and influenced by customers and assessment of future pilot training needs.

He described the Hawk as the “world’s most cost-effective advanced jet trainer,” which is “in service, in production and in demand.” He said the Hawk “consistently achieves high sortie rates with high availability with its customers worldwide. It is a fully capable fourth-generation advanced jet trainer with fighterlike handling and real operational capabilities. Over 900 Hawks have been sold to or ordered by 19 nations.”

The latest versions of the Hawk have been designed to meet the need to produce pilots for the latest generation of frontline fighters, such as the F-16, Mirage 2000 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

“Flying training requirements have changed significantly over recent years,” he said. “Today the emphasis is on testing trainee pilots’ leadership, situation awareness and system management in addition to pure aircraft handling.

“By 2010 most fourth-generation frontline aircraft will be operational and a new generation of fighters requires complicated weapon systems and sensors to be taught in a realistic training environment,” he said. “To reduce training on frontline assets new training aircraft are required. The Hawk is the only aircraft available in the time frame required.”

Wilson said BAE Systems’ success in being selected by the UK to replace the RAF’s existing Hawk T Mk1 fleet would be the key to success in export markets. The Hawk will fulfill the Royal Air Force’s requirement for an advanced jet trainer for the          Eurofighter Typhoon and F35 Joint Strike Fighter. A production decision is expected early in 2005 to allow deliveries beginning in 2008.

Recent studies reveal a healthy market around the world for advanced jet trainers/light attack aircraft, Wearden said. “This could be 1,500 aircraft over the next 10 to 15 years,” he added. “The Hawk could capture a market of 400 to 500 aircraft over the next 15 years,” he said. “It is the low-risk solution, proven with inherent growth capability.”