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BAE sharpens Hawks’ talons

hawk lead in fighter
BAE Systems Australia has successfully inducted the final Hawk Mk 127 lead-in trainer aircraft into its Williamtown maintenance facility (Source BAE Systems Australia)

BAE Systems Australia has successfully inducted the final Hawk Mk 127 lead-in trainer aircraft into its Williamtown maintenance facility ahead of its upgrade, which will make the Royal Australian Air Force’s Hawks among the most advanced of its type in the world. 

The Australian Hawk Mk 127 fleet has been an integral part of the fast jet training system since 2001, enabling the RAAF to graduate highly trained aircrew for life in the cockpits of combat aircraft including F/A-18 A/B Classic Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.


The project to upgrade the 33 aircraft fleet began in 2016. The upgrade of this last aircraft in 2019 will complete the strategically important Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program.

BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said, "The upgraded BAE Systems Hawk aircraft provides the RAAF with a similar capability as the most modern Hawk aircraft around the world."

With this highly capable upgraded Hawk aircraft, the RAAF has a lead-in fighter that is ready to deliver high calibre pilots for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

The RAAF has been conducting new introductory fighter courses with the upgraded Hawks already in service.



Each upgraded Hawk aircraft provides new training capabilities including simulated radar, electronic warfare, digital mapping, ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance. The upgrade also includes the replacement of two legacy synthetic training devices with three full mission simulators provided by CAE.  

"It’s also testament to all involved that the upgrade program has been delivered without adversely impacting the training of the RAAF’s fast jet aircrew, which is a significant achievement," Costigan explained.

Hawk has seen service with 18 different nations and delivered more than 4 million flying hours, preparing tens of thousands of pilots for life in a frontline combat aircraft.

Australia bought 33 Hawk aircraft in the 1990s. Most of the aircraft were assembled at Williamtown, NSW. 

The Hawk Mk 127 is a tandem, two-seat jet aircraft. It is used to prepare the RAAF’s fast jet aircrew for operational conversion to the F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18 Super Hornet and the F-35 JSF.

Hawk is designed to look, feel and function like the latest generation of front-line combat aircraft. The heads-up display and full-colour multi-functional displays are supported by the latest generation mission computers that can provide display data representative of the latest combat aircraft, such as Typhoon and F-35, and the latest navigational aids, such as a digital moving map.

BAE sharpens Hawks’ talons
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