Queensland’s TAE Aerospace agrees to Hawk Lead-in Fighter deal

written by Adam Thorn | October 13, 2020

Engineering and maintenance company TAE Aerospace has signed a deal with Rolls-Royce to provide support services on the Adour Mk871 engine that powers the RAAF’s Hawk Lead-in Fighter, writes Stephen Kuper.

As part of the agreement, the business will perform depot-level maintenance and repair support services for the engine from its new Turbine Engine Maintenance Facility in Ipswich, Queensland, as well as periodic onsite Adour engine support at RAAF Williamtown and RAAF Pearce.

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The Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter prepares qualified Air Force pilots for conversion to F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets. The Hawk is operated by Number 76 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, and Number 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth.

Pilots complete a 14-week Introductory Fighter Course at RAAF Base Pearce with the Hawk, which includes general flying, instrument flying, formation flying, night flying and navigation. Graduates then progress to a 20-week course at RAAF Base Williamtown for air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons training with the Hawk. Only then can pilots progress to conversion to the F/A-18A/B Hornet or F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Rolls-Royce, as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), has the propulsion support contract with BAE Systems Australia to maintain the Adour engine for the RAAF’s fleet of 33 BAE Systems Hawk aircraft, which are currently planned to be withdrawn from service in 2026.

TAE Aerospace CEO Andrew Sanderson said he hoped the deal would pave the way for the company to sign deals with other regional operators of the Hawk, such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

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“We are excited to be able to expand our turbine engine MRO capabilities to now include the Rolls-Royce Adour engine in our new Turbine Engine Maintenance Facility in Ipswich and increase employment opportunities in the region,” said Sanderson.

“Working with Rolls-Royce is another important step for our company as we continue to build our reputation as a trusted partner for all turbine engine manufacturers here in Australia.”

TAE Aerospace is a privately-owned aerospace company headquartered in Australia but with operations throughout Asia-Pacific and North America.

Last year, Australian Aviation reported how TAE Aerospace made its third foray into the US market with the purchase of Ag Air Turbines.

The acquisition of the Idaho-based maintenance, overhaul and repair (MRO) company follows deals to buy Arizona-based Copper State Turbine Engine Company and Missouri-based Propulsion Controls Company earlier in 2019.

TAE Aerospace chief executive, Andrew Sanderson said combining the strengths of the US businesses with the company’s experience with the Honeywell TPE331 (turboprop) engine in the Asia Pacific region put the company in the best position globally to look after those engines for operators.

Further, Sanderson said the three US companies were reputed for their maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work on the engine and its associated fuel controls and components.

“We are now recognised by Honeywell as the world’s largest authorised TPE331 provider and we are also the only licensed repair facility in the world for both the Woodward and Honeywell fuel controls fitted to this engine,” Sanderson said in a statement on 1 August.

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