03/09/2003

BAE Systems wins £1bn Indian training jet contract

The Indian cabinet has awarded a £1 billion order for jet fighter trainer aircraft to BAE Systems.

The order, understood to be for 66 aircraft, will see BAE supply its Hawk advanced jet trainer to the Indian government, in a contract which has been under discussion for almost 20 years.

The massive contract has yet to be signed, but the Indian government were thought to be keen to try to reduce the number of accidents experienced by its fighter pilots.

The Indian Air Force operates a substantial fleet of mainly Russian-built fighter aircraft. While it boasts a number of state-of-the-art air superiority fighters, including the Mach 2 capable Sukoy Su-30 and Mig-29, the backbone of the fighter capability is based on the elderly Russian Mig aircraft, which have had a poor pilot safety record.

Although no official figures are available, according to one source, the IAF has around 40 Mig-21 trainers and in the last three years more than two dozen have been involved in serious accidents many of which have killed the pilots.

Earlier this year, BAE Systems announced that the UK MoD had selected the latest generation of Hawk aircraft, the Hawk Mk 128, as its Advanced Jet trainer. BAE confirmed that an order for 20 of the aircraft, with an option for up to a further 24 was expected. The aircraft will enter service from 2008 as replacements for some of the current Hawk trainer aircraft at RAF Valley.

The MoD contract helped ensure that redundancy notices for 470 posts at BAE Systems Brough plant were suspended.

The Hawk 128, which has a fully digital cockpit, open architecture computers and airborne simulation systems, will be used to train fighter pilots destined to fly the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Joint Strike Fighter.

(SP)

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