Northrop Dumps Hawk for Clean-Sheet T-X

Northrop Grumman has abandoned plans to offer the BAE Systems Hawk for the Air Force’s upcoming T-X contest, in favor of an all-new jet being prototyped with the company’s Scaled Composites division. The aircraft “has been purpose-designed for the Air Force,” a company spokesman told Air Force Magazine. “We are in discussions with BAE Systems to include their training system in our aircraft solution. L-3 Communications is responsible for the ground-based training system,” the spokesman said. The Hawk, he added, “Is a tremendous airplane; however, we decided as a team to offer a new design as the US Air Force continued to mature their requirements.” The Hawk, a venerable design dating back to the 1970s, was seen by some as unsuited to USAF’s wish for a tight-turning airplane able to maneuver at high angles of attack, the better to prepare pilots for the F-35 and F-22. Air Force Magazine queried Northrop Grumman in 2013 about whether the company was planning to adapt its privately-funded F-20 Tigershark—itself a derivative of Northrop’s own F-5/T-38 series—for T-X. The company said at the time it had no plans to do so. However, in a cover image supplied to Aviation Week and Space Technology, Northrop Grumman portrayed an aircraft not unlike the F-20. The spokesman said the image was “an artist’s concept,” without saying whether it truly represented the airplane that will be offered.