The Royal Australian Air Force’s lead-in fighter Hawk trainer fleet is now among the most capable in the world following a major capability upgrade supported by BAE Systems Australia.
Each upgraded Hawk aircraft provides new training capabilities, including simulated radar, electronic warfare, digital mapping, ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance.
The Australian Hawk Mk127 fleet has been an integral part of the fast jet training system since 2001, enabling the RAAF to produce highly trained aircrew for life in the cockpits of combat aircraft, including the RAAF's fleet of F/A-18 A/B Classic Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan welcomed the milestone achievement, saying, "The work undertaken on these aircraft demonstrates the important sovereign capability that we have developed in Australia and which will underpin our sustainment of the F-35 aircraft."
The 33 aircraft upgrade began in 2014 and finished on time and within budget. The modified aircraft provides the RAAF with a lead-in fighter that is comparable with the Royal Air Force Hawk T2 Advanced Jet Trainer and ensures the Australian Hawk aircraft is suitable for a fifth-generation air force, preparing pilots for fast jets including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
"With this extremely capable upgraded Hawk aircraft, the RAAF has a world-class lead-in fighter that is ready to deliver high calibre pilots for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter," Costigan added.
The project has involved BAE Systems engineers in the UK and Australia, BAE Systems and RAAF technicians, and industry partners CAE and Cubic Defence Applications Inc have played pivotal roles.
Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne welcomed the milestone, saying, "Completion of the aircraft modification program means the Lead-In Fighter training capability is well positioned to support Air Force’s fast-jet pilots for transition to the next generation of fighter aircraft including the Joint Strike Fighter, Super Hornet and Growler capabilities."
BAE's upgrade program includes the replacement of two legacy synthetic training devices with three full-mission simulators provided by CAE and the incorporation of an air combat manoeuvring instrumentation capability onto the aircraft by Cubic Defence Applications Inc.
Hawk is the world's most successful advanced jet trainer aircraft with more than 1,000 aircraft ordered and delivered to 18 countries, preparing more than 20,000 pilots for life in a fast jet cockpit.
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Using advanced airborne simulation technology, Hawk is a flying classroom that can put student pilots at the controls of a combat aircraft, delivering a seamless transition to the front line.
The aircraft are operated by 76 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown and by 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth. The Hawk Mark 127 lead-in fighter 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 Joint Strike Fighter.
BAE Systems Australia provides the ADF and related security customers in vital areas such as through-life support, security, logistics and systems integration.