NEW DELHI - India and the United Kingdom have jointly developed a combat ready aircraft that will be on offer to neighbouring countries, countering growing Chinese penetration of the defence market in the region.

A jointly developed, dual role version of the Hawk trainer aircraft will make its debut later this month, with an Indo-UK combine targeting export markets for the versatile plane.

The Advanced Hawk has been in the works for two years under a unique model with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and BAE pooling resources to develop a faster, more agile Hawk that can also carry smart weapons. The aircraft, which is currently being assembled in Bengaluru for the AeroIndia show next week, has several new features including a new wing design by HAL that gives the plane more agility, extra power and the ability to carry a range of conventional and precision weapons for an operational role.

HAL said there is already considerable interest for the aircraft that will undertake its first flight in March. “We have had good interest for the aircraft. There have been a few visits by our neighbouring air chiefs who have shown interest,” HAL chairperson T Suvarna Raju told ET.

BAE, which manufactures the plane and has exported it across the world, believes that the Advanced Hawk will be in demand with several air forces that are acquiring advanced fighter jets. The company estimates that there is a requirement of over such 300 trainers worldwide that will be targeted with the new product.

The aircraft is also being showcased as a force multiplier for any air force due to its ability to carry a range of weapons and a laser designation pod. “The Advanced Hawk can carry a payload of 3,000 kg mounted across seven stations. It is ready to play the role as a force multiplier in combat operations,” said Dave Corfield who heads Hawk India.