BAES, ATE upgrading SAAF Hawks to OC4


BAE Systems says it has has completed work to upgrade the navigation and weapons system for the South African Air Force’s fleet of Hawk jet trainers, with work to fit the new system now underway.

The software and hardware upgrade, jointly developed with long term South African partner Advanced Technologies and Engineering, enables the Hawk Mk120 to share simulated radar data across multiple platforms. For example the South African Hawk Mk120 can see the same data as the South African Air Force Gripen and South African Navy Corvette frigate whilst on a training sortie.

The upgrade, known as Operational Capability 4 (OC4), includes the introduction of software to simulate the use of infra-red and radar guided missiles. The upgrade also involves the replacement of the existing analogue video recording with a digital recording capability. This means greater flexibility in analysing the data post sortie, vastly improving the quality of the debrief process for both the aircrew and ground crew.

Mike Swales, International Training Director for BAE Systems says integrating “these upgrades onto the SAAF’s Hawks will significantly enhance the training capability of the aircraft, ensuring the student pilots learn in a more realistic environment, significantly reducing the cost of training on expensive platforms. Additionally they are also better prepared for the challenge of flying front-line aircraft.”

The capability upgrade has commenced on eight aircraft based at Air Force Base Makhado in Limpopo Province, with the remainder of the Hawk Mk120 fleet due to be upgraded before the end of the year.

BAE Systems delivered 24 Hawk Mk120 lead-in fighter trainers to South Africa where they are operated by 85 Combat Flying School. They are used for training Gripen pilots and weapons officers. The Hawk aircraft have been configured so that their cockpits and systems closely resemble those on the Gripen advanced fighter. Hawk aircraft is in operation with 18 countries world wide and is often regarded as the best trainer aircraft in its class.