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RAF to inspect grounded Hawk trainer fleet

The UK Royal Air Force hopes to issue inspection guidelines on 4 August that should enable it to begin resuming flight operations with its BAE Systems Hawk T1/1A jet trainers.

A ground inspection of one aircraft conducted at RAF Valley in Anglesey, north Wales on 27 July found surface cracks in the structure of one of the aircraft's Martin-Baker Mk10B ejection seats, the service confirms.

Its entire Hawk T1/1A fleet - which includes the aircraft of the Red Arrows aerobatic display team - was suspended from flight operations as a safety precaution. The RAF ordinarily has around 90 of the legacy type in use, including 14 flown for the Royal Navy.

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Martin-Baker personnel have been conducting their own checks on the affected equipment, and are due to deliver inspection guidelines soon, the RAF says. It hopes to be able to clear the Red Arrows to make their planned appearances at the Bournemouth air show and at other commitments this weekend.

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Meanwhile, BAE Systems has asked its international Hawk operators using aircraft equipped with Mk10B seats to conduct their own inspections and report back with any findings.

The grounding order excludes the RAF's new Hawk T2/128 trainers, which are also based at RAF Valley.

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