Royal Air Force operations of the Eurofighter Typhoon will be supported from late next year by a new fleet of 28 BAE Systems Hawk 128 advanced jet trainers to be based at RAF Valley in north Wales.
To offer enhanced capabilities including radar and weapons simulation, digital moving map and ground-proximity warning systems, the new aircraft will be required to meet a training trend which will see the current 30% of fighter pilots who transition to single-seat aircraft rise to around 55% as the Typhoon and Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter enter frontline use. Some 45 RAF fast jet pilots currently earn their wings each year: 25 using the Hawk T1/1A at Valley and the remainder flying Hawk 115s operated by the NATO Flying Training in Canada scheme.
While deliveries of the new AJT fleet will begin in August 2008, the first ab initio students will not fly the type until the third or fourth quarters of 2010, placing added pressure on the current Hawk fleet. The service's 19 Sqn plans to introduce changes to its training syllabus from mid-year to place increased emphasis on airborne re-tasking, close air support and energy management tasks, plus composite air defence and evade missions.