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  • PICTURE: RAF starts Hawk T2 operations, as MFTS syllabus nears completion

PICTURE: RAF starts Hawk T2 operations, as MFTS syllabus nears completion

The first equipment from the UK's tri-service Military Flying Training System (MFTS) has been accepted for use at Royal Air Force base Valley in north Wales, as planners prepare to conduct an internal review of the complete training syllabus "this autumn".

Seven of the RAF's eventual 28 BAE Systems Hawk 128 advanced jet trainers have been delivered to the service's 19 Sqn to support the development of tactics by a six-strong team of pilots.

A further four renamed Hawk T2s have already been accepted by the service, and 22 will be delivered this year. The remainder will follow in 2010, with work to prepare a future cadre of instructors to start late the same year and the first students to fly the type from late 2011.

© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

A core fleet of around six new aircraft will initially log a combined 20-30 flight hours each month at Valley, says Sqn Ldr Dan Beard, officer commanding the RAF's T2 development flight. But activity will ramp up significantly as the model moves towards achieving full operational capability in March 2012, from when it will be used to prepare around 40 new pilots a year for types including the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Ministry of Defence's training system partner, Ascent - a consortium of Lockheed Martin UK and VT - will deliver the completed MFTS syllabus early next year. This will influence the selection of additional aircraft.

A new basic trainer will enter use from 2015, and replace the RAF's Shorts Tucano T1 turboprops by 2016, says Laurence Bryant, integrated project team leader for the UK Defence Equipment and Support organisation. Use of the service's legacy Hawk T1/1As is also to be extended to bridge the introduction of the new equipment.

Meanwhile, minister for defence equipment and support, Quentin Davies says the UK could consider selling some of its Hawk 128s and ordering replacements should a buyer emerge soon. "If such an opportunity arose I'd be sympathetic," he says, adding "we would certainly have to look at it".

BAE says a modification will be implemented during the production of the RAF's last six Hawk T2s, and retrofitted to its previous examples within their first 500 flight hours, to avoid a possible wing fatigue problem identified during tests on Royal Australian Air Force Hawk 127s.

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