The Royal Australian Air Force has commenced training on its new CAE-built Hawk 127 simulators at RAAF Bases Pearce and Williamtown.
The new devices were delivered as part of the Project AIR 5438 Hawk Lead In Fighter Capability Assurance Program – LIFCAP – which has seen the key fast jet training capability upgraded in order to better prepare the next generation of RAAF air combat pilots.
“The program is running in lockstep with the LIFCAP upgrade,” Phil Randerson, CAE Australia’s training solutions manager said.
“One of the decisions that was made was to procure a training system that was going to continue to improve the training of pilots through the key introductory fighter course.”
The project acquired three simulators, two of which are located in a new dedicated Hawk 127 training facility adjacent to the RAAF’s 76SQN headquarters at Williamtown, and the other at RAAF Pearce where 79SQN is based.
After being awarded their ‘wings’ with 2FTS at Pearce on the Pilatus PC-9, those pilots streamed onto fast jets complete a Hawk conversion with 79SQN, before moving to 76SQN to learn combat and weapons tactics on the Hawk. From 76SQN, pilots are posted to an operational conversion course on the Hornet, Super Hornet or Growler.
The Hawk 127 entered service in 2001 and the LIFCAP program has seen several key upgrades made to the jet, which should ensure it achieves its planned life-of-type in the late 2020s.
These include new mission computers and operational flight program (OFP) software; a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS); mission simulated datalinks including radar, weapons, chaff/flares and radar warning receiver; the ability to carry an ACMI pod; a new IFF system; a new joint mission planning system (JMPS); a comms/audio management unit (CAMU); the three new simulators and associated synthetic devices; and the associated technical publications and documentation.
To date, about 20 of the 33 Hawk 127s in RAAF service have undergone the LIFCAP upgrade. Each upgrade takes about 15 weeks to complete, and prime contractor BAE Systems Australia is also taking the opportunity to address any fatigue or structural issues with the jets while they undergo the LIFCAP upgrade. All aircraft should have completed their upgrades by the end of this year.
The new simulators are operated by CAE Australia staff. While training on the devices commenced at 79SQN in mid-2017, 76SQN started its training and achieved an initial operating capability with its simulators in early January.