While I may be wrong, the Dream Hawk does still look like a high end, upgraded trainer that also supports a much improved attack role for those air-forces looking to do more with their trainer at an affordable cost. Definitely interesting to see how much they improve in the avionics because BaE could potentially be looking at surrogate training roles as well given that they have really no chance in the T-X market in the US.
The export success would naturally be contingent upon a lot of air-forces wanting a low cost aircraft, that can fire a lot of fairly high cost munitions such as the Brimstone and the LGB. As Singha mentioned there are other players in this space with the L-159 and A-29 also offering low cost land attack options. The actual market may not be with air-forces that can't afford anything better but those that have a lot of stuff that is better but want to leverage their PGM inventory by deploying it on a more sustainable and lower-cost platform that they are already familiar with (Saudi Arabia for one)..
The L-159 missed its 10 year market forecast by a huge margin (they had earlier wished to make deals for 250-500 aircraft over 10 years of marketing) however it would be interesting to see how BaE and HAL position this and how much cheaper it is to the LCA, Bandar etc. Light attack jets, particularly in the ME and African markets would also face a lot of pressure from fairly low-cost Chinese armed drones that are beginning to show up in these markets. It could definitely work depending upon the cost and capability especially if it extends the trainer side of the business further for the Hawk with more modern designs generally more expensive or years away from service.
The plan to build the Advanced Combat Hawk in India is a response to a perceived IAF requirement for enhanced strike co-ordinated armed reconnaissance and close air support. IHS Jane's reported in February 2015 that BAE Systems was negotiating with the IAF about the provision of such capability on the Hawk. In terms of exports, air forces in Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also outlined such a requirement.
For the IAF it is possible that the Advanced Combat Hawk will feature weapon systems that are also fitted onto the IAF's SEPECAT Jaguar fighters. These include MBDA's Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles, Rafael Litening targeting pods, and a range of smart weapons. IHS Jane's has also previously reported that the plan could incorporate equipping the Hawks with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, which turns an unguided 70 mm rocket into a precision laser-guided weapon.
The proposed Advanced Combat Hawk programme also builds on the close industrial links between BAE Systems and HAL. In addition to the Hawk production programme the two companies operate a JV - named BAeHAL Software - that was established in 1993 in Bangalore and provides IT solutions and services to defence, aerospace, transport and engineering sectors. Equity in this JV is split three ways: BAE Systems hold 11%, BAeHAL Software employees own 40%, while HAL holds the majority 49% stake.
If a customer is looking for a dual trainer and light attack aircraft that prioritises speed and agility over loadout and legs, and if they are looking for such a platform with turboprop procurement, operating, and support costs, then they can pick from the Super Tucano, AT-6, KA-1/KT-1P, or even Kobac/Kobats.
If they are still looking for turboprop affordability, but regard payload and endurance as being more important, then Archangel is the platform of choice. If it is a bespoke yet affordable light attack and surveillance turboprop that suits, then there is AHRLAC.
Larger 'gunship' turboprops are also on offer, in the guise of CN235/C295 conversions and the MC-27J, all of which offer high endurance, range, and firepower in a package that enables the operator to still use the aircraft in the light transport role for which it was likely first procured.
For those customers that require the mission set of the light-strike turboprop, but which prefer the added performance of a jet, again there are a number of options that will not break the bank. The Hawk, Yak-130, M-346, L-15, JL-9, F/A-50, L-159, L-39NG, and Scorpion all offer the capabilities of a jet but without the costs normally associated with one.
For a region as vast and diverse as Asia Pacific, there are almost as many light-strike options as there are requirements and mission sets, which bodes for an especially rosy outlook for this class of aircraft in the region.
This is a view endorsed by Lt Gen Wiercinski, who told IHS Jane's , "I think the future [for this class of aircraft] in this region is very bright. It has a purpose. It's not for air-to-air and nor is it a long-range bomber. If you're trying to do something other than close air support/light attack and reconnaissance, then it's probably not the right kind of aircraft. But if this is what you're looking to do, then this is most definitely the aircraft to do it with."