UK delays Hawk servicing decision
A centralised contract for Hawk fast-jet servicing and support was expected to have been signed by the autumn, in time to enter into effect in December 2020 — but the UK government has delayed the programme by awarding BAE Systems interim contracts valued at £26.6 million ($34 million) for 1 December 2020 to 31 March 2021.
These single-source contracts include the delivery of maintenance, spares, post-design services and in-service support. As well as prime contractor BAE Systems and sub-contractor Babcock, Rolls-Royce will continue its support for the aircraft’s Adour engines.
The UK MoD operates the BAE Systems Hawk from four main operating bases in the UK. The latest Hawk T2 variant is used by 4 and 25 Squadrons at RAF Valley for advanced jet training.
Hawk T1 and T1A aircraft are operated by 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming for target towing and training support tasks (see photo); at RAF Scampton by the Red Arrows display team; and by 736 Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Culdrose for ‘airborne threat simulation’.
The MoD plans to rationalise Hawk servicing and support into a single contract and move its servicing and support hub from RAF Valley to RAF Leeming.
This decision has now been delayed to undertake more discussions with unions and local MPs who are fearful of job losses at RAF Valley. According to the MoD procurement organisation Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) , the interim contracts were issued ‘to align the start date of the proposed replacement contract’.
BAE Systems declined to respond when questioned by Shephard.
However, Jeremy Quin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement told Parliament in mid-October: ‘The RAF is currently undergoing a review of how best to deliver all aspects of servicing and maintenance for the Hawk T1s through to their OSDs (Out of Service Date).'
He added: ‘My officials are in discussions with BAE Systems and we are determining potential options for a Hawk 2020 support contract. I emphasise that, at this stage, no decisions have been taken. Any future decision will be based on a range of factors.’
The decision to move all Hawk servicing to RAF Leeming does seem strange given that the Hawk T1 OSD is set for 2027 with the Red Arrows display team to follow in 2030. That would leave Hawk T2 servicing taking place away from the aircraft’s main operating base.
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