The RAAF has marked the 100,000 flying hours milestone of its BAE Systems Hawk 127 lead-in fighter trainer fleet with a ceremony at RAAF Base Williamtown on Thursday.
The 33 Hawk 127s were introduced into service in 2001 and are operated by 78 Wing’s 76 Squadron based at Williamtown and 79 Squadron based at RAAF Base Pearce and are used to train pilots and air combat officers bound for RAAF Hornet and Super Hornet fast jets.
“This considerable milestone has been achieved with the highest professionalism by the men and women of 78 Wing, 76 and 79 Squadrons, and in partnership with BAE Systems Australia and our program subsidiaries,” Officer Commanding 78WG Group Captain Terry van Haren said in a statement.
“100,000 hours is a significant milestone in the life-cycle of a fast jet system, and even more significant when it is achieved without loss of an aircraft or aircrew.”
The RAAF’s Hawks are maintained by BAE Systems Australia under the Hawk Lead-In Fighter In Service Support arrangement. The current in-service support contract was awarded in July 2013 for five years, with potential extensions out to 2026.
Those arrangements are “a great example of how the Commonwealth can effectively partner with industry to maximise platform availability and quality, while achieving significant savings,” BAE Systems Australia aerospace director Steve Drury said.
From July 1 BAE Systems Australia will also deliver all Hawk flightline support, including aircraft launch and recovery, on-site management support and supporting deployments.
“The partnership with Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, RAAF and BAE Systems Australia is an excellent example of Defence and industry working together to provide capability for our Australian Defence Force,” noted Head of Aerospace Systems Division, Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts.
The RAAF’s Hawks are currently in the process of being upgraded to the Hawk 127 + LIFCAP (Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program) standard which adds an advanced mission computer and updated OFP software.
The aircraft are due to be replaced in the late 2020s under a new ‘Lead-In Fighter Training System’ program unveiled in the recently-released Defence White Paper’s accompanying Integrated Investment Program document, with a project timeframe of 2022-2033 and an “approximate investment value” budget range of $4-5 billion.