Australia has awarded BAE Systems a deal to upgrade its fleet of Hawk 127 lead-in jet trainers.
Minister for defence materiel Mike Kelly says the "multi-million dollar" package will see Canberra's fleet of Hawks upgraded to the same level as "a later version of the aircraft developed for the UK Ministry of Defence". This refers to the T2-standard trainer, of which 28 have been delivered to the Royal Air Force. Flown by the service's 4 Sqn and featuring advanced capabilities such as emulated radar and electronic warfare systems, the type also has formed the basis for new-generation aircraft ordered for the air forces of Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The UK's Hawk T2 features an advanced cockpit
"Australian industry will also be engaged, ensuring compatibility with the current lead-in fighter training capability, construction of simulator facilities, modification of the Hawk fleet, and in-service support of equipment," says Kelly. He says the upgrade will provide a better foundation for aircrew moving on to fighters such as the Boeing F/A-18A Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35.
"The upgrade will deliver an enhanced training capability and also encompasses the supply of three full mission simulators, RAAF aircrew and groundcrew training and support," says BAE, which values the deal at £90 million ($133 million).
Confirmed on 8 July, the news came three days after BAE announced that Canberra had renewed its contract to maintain the Royal Australian Air Force's 33 Hawks. The five-year deal has the potential to be extended to 2026, and is valued at up to $435 million.
Flown from its bases at Williamtown, New South Wales, and Pearce, Western Australia, the RAAF's Hawks were delivered between 1999 and 2001, says Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.
Additional reporting by Craig Hoyle in London