Australia's BAE Systems Hawk 127 lead-in fighter trainers are to be upgraded to a configuration based on the new-generation T2 model flown by the UK Royal Air Force, defence minister Stephen Smith has confirmed.

Providing details of an initial A$25 million ($25.8 million) contract with BAE, Smith says the award "signals the commencement of upgrade activities on the Royal Australian Air Force's fast jet training capability".

Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records the service as having 33 of the aircraft, which were delivered between 1999 and 2001 and are flown from RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales and RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia.

 RAAF Hawk 127 - Commonwealth of Australia

Commonwealth of Australia

Speaking at the Farnborough air show on 10 July, BAE's director of Hawk aircraft programmes Michael Christie said the mid-life upgrade will take Australia's trainers to largely the same OC2 software standard as the 28 T2s flown by the RAF and the 22 Hawk 165s recently ordered by Saudi Arabia.

The company hopes India's inventory of the type could also be equipped with the same mission computers and software as part of a future modification programme, he added.

Upgrading the Hawk 127 fleet will "ensure a suitable foundation for progression on to the [Boeing] F/A-18 Classic and Super Hornets and the [Lockheed Martin F-35] Joint Strike Fighter," says minister for defence materiel Jason Clare.

"Australian industry will be responsible for construction of simulator facilities, modification of the Hawk fleet, and in-service support of equipment," states the nation's Department of Defence.

Source: Flight International