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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
BAE 'confident' of securing 1bn deal
Two BAE System Hawk trainers in flight
BAE Systems could deliver the Hawks next year
BAE Systems has insisted it is confident of securing a 1bn Hawk jets deal with India despite reports the sale faces collapse.

The company is in discussions with the Indian Government over the purchase of 66 advanced trainer jets.

Reports in the media suggested that the air force is now poised to pull out of the plan and buy Russian MiG jets instead.

But management and unions at BAE Systems say they are confident an agreement will be struck.

We are confident that we will go ahead with this sale to India

BAE spokesman
A spokesman for BAE Systems said: "We are continuing to hold discussions with the Indian government.

"We have been selected to provide the trainer jets and we are confident that we will go ahead with this sale to India."

BAE Systems is now the only company left in negotiations for the deal after the Indian government declared that it had won through its tendering process.

However an article in The Guardian newspaper based on Indian television news reports said the government was now looking again at the Russian MiG AT plane which, at $16m each, is reported to be $5m cheaper than the Hawk.

Workers' anxiety

The reports added to the anxiety of the 2,500 workers at BAE Systems' Brough plant in Humberside which makes the Hawk jet.

About 850 jobs were lost at the site last year and although the factory also makes the Harrier jet and components for Airbus, 70% of its work is related to the Hawk.

The Warton plant in Lancashire is also involved in the production of the jet and carries out final assembly and testing.

Neil Haylock, MSF union convenor at Brough, said: "These sort of reports do make us a bit more edgy but we think it is largely brinkmanship by the Indian government.

"I think they are trying to drive our price down because the Hawk is more expensive than the MiG.

'Best jet'

"But the Hawk is the best jet in the world and you cannot compare the two."

If the deal goes ahead, the first of the 66 Hawk jets could be delivered to India next year.

The BAE Systems spokesman added: "The Hawk is the world's most successful advanced jet trainer, it has been sold to 17 countries and flown more than 1.5 million hours.

"While we are still confident of securing the deal and it is important to Brough, there is other work going on there."

He said the factory was currently working on supplying 12 Hawks to South Africa and is upgrading trainer jets belonging to the Royal Air Force.

See also:

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01 Mar 01 | Business
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10 Jan 01 | Business
BAE Systems plunges on grim outlook
11 Dec 00 | South Asia
UK moves to close India jet deal
13 Dec 00 | South Asia
UK lobbies US on India sanctions
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
India hawks 'not Pakistani spies'
20 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Charting the Hawk's success
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