BAE Hawk begins 6-week regional tour

 - December 6, 2006, 11:37 AM

The arrival on Sunday of the BAE Systems Hawk New Demonstrator Aircraft (HNDA) marks the debut of the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) anywhere in Asia and the start of a six-week tour of the region. After a number of the Singapore air force’s leading pilots have flown in the Hawk, the HNDA team will take the opportunity to fly pilots from the Royal Brunei Air Force.

After the show, the Hawk will fly to Malaysia and Thailand for further customer flying before completing its tour in the Middle East and Europe. The company’s Hawk sales director, Mike Rudd, noted that the Royal Thai Air Force has need of around 18 aircraft to train pilots destined to fly Lockheed Martin F-16s. Malaysia, which already operates Hawk aircraft, has a requirement for additional advanced jet trainers to meet a requirement to prepare pilots for the Boeing F-18 program.

Although superficially similar to the original Hawk that entered service with Britain’s Royal Air Force over 30 years ago, the AJT version seen here at the show incorporates many refinements developed since then. These include three full-color active-matrix crystal displays, each controlled by “soft keys” to show navigation, sensor, weapons and systems data, while a health-and-usage monitoring system  guarantees 10,000 hours fatigue life, and the R-R/Turbomeca Adour engine with full authority digital engine control has an impressive 4,000-hour time between overhaul.

However, many potential customers for advanced jet trainers demand embedded weapons and sensor simulation and this too is a feature of the Hawk AJT to enable cost-effective training to be carried out on some tactics used on fourth- and fifth-generation frontline aircraft. To meet the requirements of new operators, BAE Systems tailors the basic Hawk AJT with customer specified equipment.

For example, Indian Air Force Hawks will enter service in 2007, but meanwhile major changes introduced at customer demand have involved the removal of two existing wiring looms and their replacement with new sets for the avionics system developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Intensive in-flight testing of the new equipment will take place in the Hawk development aircraft previously used to clear avionics for the Royal Australian Air Force trainers.

Indian Air Force pilots recently trained in the UK on RAF Hawks have so impressed air force chiefs on their return to India that they have been allowed to fly the most modern combat aircraft in the inventory, the Sukhoi Su-30.