BAE delivers new-generation Hawk training aircraft to RAF


The Royal Air Force has received the first of its £450 million fleet of 28 new BAE Systems Hawk T Mk2 advanced jet trainers.

The aircraft were delivered to air force base RAF Valley in Anglesey on Thursday and will replace an older generation of Hawk trainers that have been in service since the 1970s.

The British Ministry of Defence says the new Hawk Ts will enable pilots to train on an aircraft with systems that are closely compatible with the latest front line jets.
“The new aircraft builds on the success of its long-serving predecessor, but benefits from significant enhancement to bridge any gap with the latest front line jets entering service, such as the Typhoon,” the MoD says in a statement.

Featuring a “glass” cockpit and the latest advances in radar, weapons and defensive aids simulation, the Hawk T Mk2 is aimed at providing a seamless transition from flying training to operational squadron.

Welcoming the arrival of the first jets at RAF Valley in Wales, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies said the delivery was “excellent news” for the RAF and for British industry.

“Building on the success of the Hawk T Mk1, they will enable our pilots to hone the skills required to fly the latest generation of combat aircraft in a state-of-the-art training environment,” he added.

In addition to the realistic in-flight training environment, the new Hawk benefits from simpler design and construction, leading to lower acquisition and support costs.

Infrastructure to support the new training regime is currently under construction at RAF Valley by the Ascent Flight Services Consortium, which was awarded the £600 million contract to deliver all military pilot training on an incremental basis last summer.

Air Vice-Marshal Baz North, Air Officer Commanding 22 Group, responsible for all RAF training, sang the praises of the aircraft, noting the “Hawk has long been the backbone of fast jet training but this new advanced version will be far more representative of the new generation of jets that our trainee pilots will go on to fly on operations. It will provide real benefits in enabling pilots to move more rapidly to full combat readiness.”

Initial deliveries of ten aircraft following formal “release to service” in April will allow six to be used for development of the full training syllabus, prior to the start of pilot training on the new aircraft in 2011.
“Release to service” is a statement that the aircraft is signed off by the RAF as safe to be flown (within specific limitations) by qualified Armed Forces personnel. The “in service date” is the point in time from which the aircraft will be used for a stated purpose and is set for later this year.

The Hawk T Mk2 (Hawk 128) is similar the SA Air Force`s Hawk Mk120 fleet.  

Pic: Two Hawk T Mk2 trainers in the new livery. Cred: UK MoD