It is understood that the fleet of South African Air Force’s fleet of BAE Systems Hawk Mk 120 lead-in Fighter Trainers were temporary ground earlier this month when problems were encountered with the rigging of the ‘T-door’ that is located behind the main nose-wheel door.
A BAE Systems spokesperson has confirmed that if the T-door is not correctly fitted and rigged, wind turbulence gets into the gap between the door and the rest of the aircraft. As the spokesperson explained, “natural forces take over, leading to cracking of the door, which may also fall off.”
South Africa was the launch customer for this new, advanced version of Hawk, powered by an upgraded Rolls Royce/Turbomeca Adour 951 engine. A number of South African companies have provided equipment to the South African aircraft, including the advanced avionics developed by Advanced Technologies Engineering (ATE). Apart from the first flight test and development aircraft which was built in the United Kingdom, the balance of the 24 aircraft ordered under the Strategic Defence Package (Project Winchester) was built by Denel at Kempton Park.
However, the SAAF is not the only operator to experience problems with the rigging of the T-door on a couple of its aircraft. It is believed that a Royal Air Force Hawk Mk 128 Advanced Jet Trainer has experienced a similar problem.
BAE Systems has issued an instruction to all Hawk operators to help them ensure that the rigging of the door is correct.
Although the SAAF has been requested to comment, no response had been received at the time of going to press.