BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have crafted an exclusive partnership to propose the Hawk trainer equipped with the Adour Mk. 951 engine for the U.S. Air Force’s forthcoming competition to replace its aging T-38 fleet.

Though a British design, the engine would be produced and supported from Rolls-Royce’s company in North America, a company official says.

The pairing is not a surprise, as the companies have a long history of working together on various projects. And this engine was designed specifically for the newest version of BAE’s Hawk, which is being purchased by the Royal Air Force. BAE announced the deal Sept. 12.

The Mk. 951 is the newest version of the Adour that incorporates the use of a Full-Authority Digital-Engine Control unit and generates 6,500 lb. of thrust. This engine variant is also being used for the U.K.’s Taranis and the Dassault Neuron, both European unmanned combat aircraft demonstrators.

Rolls joins Northrop Grumman and L-3 Link Simulation and Training on the BAE T-X team.

The Air Force plans to buy up to 350 T-X aircraft as fast-jet trainers to prepare pilots to operate the F-22 and F-35 fighters. Along with the aircraft, the service is seeing a full training system, complete with ground-based training aids and simulators in hopes of reducing training cost by cutting cockpit hours for pilot certification.

The competition is not likely to start any earlier than in the fiscal 2015 budget, and initial operational capability has been slipped to the early 2020s due to budget constraints.

BAE is likely to compete against a Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries team offering the T-50 and a General Dynamics/Alenia team offering the M-346. Boeing officials maintain that they are continuing work on a clean-sheet design for the requirement, though some industry officials have said that they are in talks to potentially team with Swedish fighter maker Saab for a proposal (AWIN First, Sept. 11).

Saab, however, has denied that the Gripen will be offered for T-X.