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Hawk Variants and Units; RAF Fairford July 13 & 14, 2014

The BAE Systems Hawk, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Nowadays the Hawk still plays a very important role in the RAF and Royal Navy in the role of primary jet trainer. The RAF has a few variants of the Hawk in use. These variants, are; the Hawk T1, the Hawk T1A and the Hawk T2. The Hawk is stationed at various airfields for training and testing weapons & equipment.

When the Hawk entered service at the RAF in 1976, it replaced the Folland Gnat and the Hawker Hunter. The aircraft came into service at the advanced pilot and weapons training. The Hawk T1 was the first variant of the Hawk which joined the RAF. The most famous unit in the United Kingdom is the display team the Red Arrows. The Hawk also replaced the English Electric Canberra in the role of target towing aircraft. The Royal Navy bought a number of Hawk T1 and T1A aircraft from the RAF. The planes of the Royal Navy were mainly deployed to support operations in simulated combat training aboard the ships of the British Navy. In the period from 1990 to the 2000s, over 80 Hawk T1 and Hawk T1A aircraft were drastically modernized during the Fuselage Replacement Program (FRP). The goal of this program was to extend the lifetime of the Hawks of the RAF and Royal Navy. From 1983 to 1986 the Hawk was used in the role of short range interceptor aircraft. There were a total of 88 Hawk T1s modified; the aircraft were after the update able to carry the AIM-9L Sidewinders under the wings. The ADEN 30mm gun pod could be carried under the fuselage of these aircraft. The modified aircraft were known as the Hawk T1A. The aircraft worked together with the Tornado F3 aircraft which used their Foxhunter radar during interceptions. The Hawks were during operational missions guided to their targets by the Tornado’s.

The latest variant of the Hawk in service of the RAF is the Hawk T2. The British Ministry of Defense gave BAE Systems on December 22, 2004, the assignment to develop a more advanced version of the Hawk for the RAF and the Royal Navy. The latest design was designated as the Hawk Mk 128 and was designated in British service as the Hawk T2. The renewed Hawk T2 had no traditional cockpit because it was replaced with a full glass cockpit. The aircraft is therefore a better trainer for preparing the new pilots for the advanced jets such as the Tornado and Typhoon. The

Hawk Mk 128 has next to the glass cockpit also the improved Rolls-Royce Adour 951 engine. The Hawk T2 made its first flight on July 27, 2005 from RAF Warton where the BAE Systems factory is located. The Hawk T2 is an advanced variant of the Australian export variant of the Hawk 127. The Australian Hawk 127s would also be updated to the Hawk 128 standard which is equal to the Hawk T2 of the RAF. According to BAE Systems, there were more than 1000 Hawks sold worldwide in July 2012 since the first flight in the 70s. A contract of 450 million pounds to supply 28 Hawk T2s was signed in October 2006. The Hawk T2 is next to the service at the RAF the new advanced trainer of the Royal Navy. The Ministry of Defense has given the order to design and develop the aircraft at BAE Systems on December 22, 2005. The Hawk T2 is next to the British and Australian interest the candidate to be selected by the United States Air Force for the future TX program for a new trainer fleet. Also orders were placed in 2012 by Saudi Arabia and Oman for the supply of 22 and 8 Hawk T2 aircraft.

At this moment there are in the UK at the RAF still 81 Hawk T1 aircraft and 28 Hawk T2 aircraft in operational service. The aircraft are spread over a number of airfields within the RAF and the Royal Navy. RAF Valley has so far always been the biggest hawk airfield and it still is. The no 4 Flying Training School of the RAF is stationed at RAF Valley. This school contains nowadays the no IV(R) Squadron and the no 208(R) Squadron. The second airfield where the hawk is flying is RAF Leeming. The no 100 Squadron is based at this airbase. Also the Joint Forward Air Control Training and Standards Unit (JFACTSU) is besides this unit stationed at RAF Leeming. The RAF Aerobatic Team "The Red Arrows" is stationed at RAF Scampton. This unit is by far the most famous squadron of the RAF. The last operational RAF unit flying the Hawk is the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine at RAF Boscombe Down. The Hawks of the Royal Navy are all stationed at one airfield, namely at RNAS Culdrose. The Royal Navy has 17 Hawk T1 aircraft in use at this unit. In the past, there were more operational Hawk units in the United Kingdom. The no 74(R) Squadron was assigned to the no 4 Flying Training School at RAF Valley. The no 6 Flying Training School had two squadrons, namely the no 1 Tactical Weapons Unit 79(R) Squadron and the no 234(R) Squadron. Also existed in the past the no 2 Tactical Weapons Unit with the no 63(R) Squadron and the no 151(R) Squadron. Finally, there was the no 7 Flying Training School with the no 19(R) Squadron and the no 92(R) Squadron.

When new pilots in the RAF are selected to fly fast jets, they will start their training on the Tutor T1 of the RAF and the gliders of the type Viking T1 and Vigilant T1. These small aircraft are used for basic flight training of the RAF and the Royal Navy. The gliders are also used for the air training experiences of the Air Cadets which have not been selected for the pilot training. These aircraft are flown from multiple locations in the United Kingdom. After this initial pilot training, the cadets will advance to the Tucano T1 for basic pilot training if they are selected to fly on one of the fighters. The Tucano's of the RAF are all stationed at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in England. When this phase of the training is successfully completed, the pilots will continue with the advanced training. For this training, they first encountered the Hawk. The students will start at RAF Valley with this training. Initially, they will learn to fly a modern jet such as the Hawk. With this aircraft, the pilots are prepared to fly with even more advanced jets like the Tornado or the Typhoon. There are aspects practiced such as instrument flights, night flights and low flying exercises. After this phase, the pilots are trained in handling weapons and flying tactical missions. Eventually, the pilots will be trained on aircraft such as the Tornado and the Typhoon in the UK. The Hawk plays a very important role in the training trajectory of RAF pilots during the whole course.

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