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.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.