Qinetiq has marked the 40th anniversary of the Hawker Siddeley (now BAE Systems) Hawk jet trainer's first flight by commissioning in-flight pictures of pre-production aircraft XX154 – which remains in use with the Empire Test Pilots’ School.
First flight of the T1-standard aircraft was conducted from Dunsfold, Surrey on 21 August 1974, with the trainer flown by test pilot Duncan Simpson OBE.
Having subsequently served with experimental and research units, XX154 is now owned by Qinetiq and operated from the UK Ministry of Defence's Boscombe Down site in Wiltshire. It continues to be flown as a test pilot training aircraft, and is equipped with extensive flight test instrumentation and telemetry equipment.
Other T1s remain in use with the UK Royal Air Force – including those operated by its Red Arrows aerobatic display team – and Royal Navy, while BAE has to date secured orders for 999 Hawks in various later standards. Production of the type is continuing at the company's Warton site in Lancashire, with its orderbook including new examples for Saudi Arabia and Oman, while India's armed forces are also continuing to receive the type.
Additional reporting by Craig Hoyle