Hawk lead-in fighter upgrade achieves IOC

An A27 Hawk 127 operated by No 76 Squadron participates in a training activity over Lake George in the Australian Capital Territory.
File image of a Hawk 127. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force’s pilots of the future are now flying the latest digital standard of the Hawk advanced jet trainer, with acceptance of the first upgraded aircraft from BAE Systems.

The first cohort from 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce has commenced training, the company stated, and initial operational capability (IOC) for the Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program (AIR 5438 Phase 1A) has been recognised at a ceremony at RAAF Base Williamtown.

Each upgraded Hawk 127 lead-in fighter 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.

“The upgraded BAE Systems Hawk aircraft provides the RAAF with a leading-edge capability, and coupled with the CAE full-mission simulators delivers a highly impressive Lead-In Fighter Training System that will ensure Hawk retains its effectiveness into the next decade and beyond,” said BAE Systems Australia chief executive Glynn Phillips.

“The upgrade brings the RAAF Hawk up to the same platform capability as the most modern Hawk aircraft around the globe, allowing for future shared development and potentially shared cost across multiple users.”

Engineering teams from BAE Systems in Australia and the UK, together with CAE and Cubic, have worked closely with the Commonwealth to deliver the capability.

A joint team of BAE Systems and RAAF technicians has so far completed upgrading 12 of the 33 aircraft in the fleet, and the upgrade work is expected to be completed by early 2019.