The RAAF has taken delivered of the 33rd and final upgraded BAE Systems Hawk 127 lead-in fighter trainer (LIF) from BAE Systems following the completion of the Project AIR 5438 LIF Capability Assurance Program.
Commenced in 2014, the program has seen the RAAF’s fleet upgraded to standard equivalent to the newer Mk.128 version which has been designed to provide higher fidelity LIF training for prospective F-35 and other advanced combat aircraft pilots.<
“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,” BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive Gabby Costigan said in a statement. “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 Hawk was acquired to replace the MB326 Macchi and entered service in 2001, and LIFCAP upgrade was undertaken to address obsolescence issues and to improve the quality of training provided by the aircraft.<
The upgrade is a combination of elements from several other Hawk programs around the world, but is broadly based on that of the Hawk Mk128 program being undertaken by the UK’s RAF, and the Mk165 and Mk166 programs for Saudi Arabia and Oman respectively.
New systems for the LIFCAP jets include new mission computers and operational flight program (OFP); a traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS); mission simulated datalinks including radar, weapons, chaff/flares and radar warning receiver; the ability to carry the Cubic air combat manoeuvring instrumentation (ACMI) pod; a new IFF system; a new joint mission planning system (JMPS); a comms/audio management unit (CAMU); three new simulators and associated synthetic devices, and the associated technical publications and documentation.
The final delivery comes just a few days after BAE Systems signed a two-year contract worth $245 million to continue sustaining the RAAF’s Hawk fleet.
The contract will see the company continue to sustain the Hawks based at Williamtown and RAAF Base Pearce in WA until at least 2022, with further potential performance-based extensions. The role includes all deeper and operational-level maintenance, logistics and the management of the Australian supply chain for the program.
Reflecting the RAAF’s strategy to bring innovative asset management to sustainment, the contract sees BAE Systems Australia take on the role of platform steward for the Hawk which will see the company playing a critical role in the long-term availability and capability of the aircraft.
“The performance of the team supporting this project has been pivotal to securing this contract extension,” BAE Systems Australia Aerospace and Integrated Systems Director, Steve Drury said. “We have increased the work we do to support the aircraft, in parallel with a significant upgrade of the entire Hawk fleet and we have worked hard to reduce program costs.
“The Lead-in Fighter Capability Assurance Program upgrade ensures the aircraft is suitable for a fifth generation air force, preparing pilots for fast jets including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”