RAAF commissions new Hawk 127 LIFCAP simulators

79 Squadron Trainee, Flying Officer Iain Roberts-Thomson, operates the Hawk Simulator on a training evolution over a simulated Perth, Western Australia, at RAAF Base Pearce. *** Local Caption *** Fast-jet pilots on 79 Squadron’s Introductory Fighter Course are now training on a new, state-of-the-art HAWK Full Mission Simulator (FMS). The Hawk FMS gives students a realistic simulation of the Hawk aircraft, better preparing them for flight. The Hawk FMS has set a new benchmark for fighter-trainer simulation, giving trainee pilots better training through a more accurate experience.
A 79SQN trainee flies the new LIFCAP sim at RAAF Pearce. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force has commenced training on its new CAE-built Hawk 127 simulators at RAAF Bases Pearce and Williamtown.

The new devices were delivered as an element of the Project AIR5438 Hawk Lead In Fighter Capability Assurance Program (LIFCAP), which has seen the key fast jet capability enhanced in order to better prepare the next generation of RAAF air combat pilots.

“The program is running in lockstep with the LIFCAP upgrade,” Phil Randerson, CAE Australia’s Training Solutions Manager said. “One of the decisions that was made was to procure a training system that was going to continue to improve the training of pilots through the key introductory fighter course.”

The newly established Hawk Simulator Module at 79 Squadron on RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia. *** Local Caption *** Fast-jet pilots on 79 Squadron’s Introductory Fighter Course are now training on a new, state-of-the-art HAWK Full Mission Simulator (FMS). The Hawk FMS gives students a realistic simulation of the Hawk aircraft, better preparing them for flight. The Hawk FMS has set a new benchmark for fighter-trainer simulation, giving trainee pilots better training through a more accurate experience.
The CAE LIFCAP simulator at RAAF Pearce. (Defence)

The project acquired three simulators, two of which are located in a new dedicated Hawk 127 training facility adjacent to the RAAF’s 76SQN headquarters at Williamtown, and the other at RAAF Pearce where 79SQN is located.

After qualifying for their ‘wings’ with 2FTS at Pearce on the Pilatus PC-9, those pilots streamed onto fast jets complete a Hawk conversion with 79SQN, before moving to 76SQN to learn combat and weapons tactics on the Hawk. From 76SQN, pilots are posted to an operational conversion course on Hornet, Super Hornet or Growler.

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A CAE desk operator monitoring a LIFCAP simulator session at RAAF Williamtown. (Andrew McLaughlin)

The LIFCAP program has seen several key upgrades made to the Hawk 127 which entered service in 2001, and which should ensure it achieves its planned life-of-type in the late 2020s.

These 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 an ACMI pod a new IFF system; a new joint mission planning system (JMPS); a comms/audio management unit (CAMU); the three new simulators and associated synthetic devices; and the associated technical publications and documentation.

To date, about 20 of the 33 Hawk 127s in RAAF service have undergone the LIFCAP upgrade. Each upgrade takes about 15 weeks to complete, and prime contractor BAE Systems Australia is also taking the opportunity to address any fatigue or structural issues with the jets while they undergo the LIFCAP upgrade. All aircraft should have completed their upgrades by the end of this year.

The new simulators are operated by CAE Australia staff. While training on the devices commenced at 79SQN in mid-2017, 76SQN started its training and achieved an initial operating capability with its simulators in early January.

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Commanding Officer 76SQN WGCDR Neville O’Donnell demonstrates the simulator mission debriefing suite. (Andrew McLaughlin)