New project to replace RAAF Hawk lead-in fighters

No 76 Squadron Hawk-127 aircraft conduct an aerial display during the No 76 Squadron Family day at RAAF Base Williamtown.Somewhat lost in the Defence White Paper noise is a new $5 billion project to replace the RAAF’s Hawk lead-in fighter trainers.

The White Paper’s accompanying Integrated Investment Program document, which outlines new defence capability acquisitions, briefly notes that it: “…also includes a substantial provision
 for a new lead-in fighter training system to support those students who go on to complete the ADF’s fast jet pilot training.”

The Integrated Investment Program, released alongside the Defence White Paper on Thursday, provides little other detail other than a line in a “summary of key investment decisions” table that shows the ‘Lead-In Fighter Training System’ program has a timeframe of 2022-2033 and an “approximate investment value” budget range of $4-5 billion.

The RAAF’s 76 and 79 Squadrons operate 33 BAE Systems Hawk 127 jets in the lead-in fighter role. The aircraft entered service in 2001 and are currently being upgraded under the AIR 5438 Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Investment Program also reveals a requirement for a “Training Support Aircraft”, which appears in a summary of key investment decisions table with a timeframe of 2019-2024 with a $100-200 million “approximate investment value”.

No other details are provided, but the project may be to replace 32 Squadron’s King Air twin turboprops used to support the School of Air Warfare.


  1. mick181 says

    The RAAF will definitely have a watching brief on the USAFs jet trg replacement project for this one. The USAF will probably look to fit the same cockpit lay out as the F-35 in their LIFT.

  2. mick181 says

    Tim the Hawk replacement is likely to be 33 or less. A lot of trg now is done in simulators less time in the actual aircraft. I’m not actually sure it does mean a Hawk replacement in this DWP after re reading the IIP, It may be referring to an Hawk upgrade to match the F-35. Which would include pulling out the entire Cockpit and replacing it as well as avionics.

  3. TimC69 says

    The Russians have shown that a dedicated ground attack aircraft is required (SU25) so i think we need to take a leaf out of their book (also the A10 springs to mind) .As an ex infantry soldier ,close air support/COIN type runs which the big fast jets can’t provide like a small jet/piston aircraft can is a godsend when out gunned and out numbered. The recent Russian success in Syria shows what a mixture of mission specific aircraft can achieve in a small amount of time.

  4. BJ says

    The RAAF will have a greater need than 33 aircraft. If the replacement has the same cockpit as the F-35, and synthetic training capabilities, the RAAF can use them as a cheaper alternative for SOME F-35 training missions at the squadron level.

    Throw in a few to operate at ARDU and double as aggressors at Woomera, and 50 isn’t far from the mark.

  5. Adrian P says

    So what does BAE have a Hawk replacement, or does the Royal Navy interest in the Textron Scorpion show a direction for a Hawk replacement for training and close air support. might be going.

  6. Jason says

    While the Hawk 128 cockpit will be a medium term solution, I would suggest the RAAF would look to follow a similar path to that of the US T-X program as a Hawk replacement.