Since it was introduced in 1976, well over a thousand of BAE Systems' Hawk trainer jets have entered service in 18 countries around the world. Now the latest variant, the Advanced Hawk, has taken to the air for the first time in the skies over Warton, Lancashire, UK in demonstrator form. Boasting a new wing design and a revamped cockpit, the Anglo-Indian two-seater is intended to train pilots to handle fifth-generation combat aircraft.

With the introduction of aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II that combine supersonic speed with advanced networking and Command and Control capabilities, building new training aircraft to teach the next generation of pilots has become a priority. The result of a joint internally funded project by BAE Systems and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Advanced Hawk, which made its public debut at Aero India 2017 in Bangalore in February, is designed to fill this gap.

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BAE Systems projects a market of 300 Advanced Hawk aircraft over the next decade, which may be built in India, Britain, or both, depending on potential customer demand. It boasts a redesigned wing with an active slat leading edge and an upgraded combat flap for an improved takeoff climb and a 25 percent better turn rate. It is also capable of achieving supersonic speeds in a dive to provide students with experience in transonic flight.

In terms of powerplant, the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mark 951 jet engine has been tweaked for more thrust, and the Advanced Hawk has smart weapons capability and hard points on the airframe, allowing the trainer to be converted into a light combat aircraft capable of close support, reconnaissance, surveillance, and air defense. There is also a countermeasures dispenser and a radar warning system.

Inside, BAE says the cockpit has been redesigned to give it the look and feel of a fifth-generation fighter, complete with Hands-On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS) cockpit controls with a non-fly-by-wire flight control to give the student a realistic feel of fast jet handling. There's also the BAE Systems' LiteHUD low-profile head-up display, a large-area display, and systems that allow for a complete simulation of a Typhoon or F-35 Lightning II's systems sensors, weapons, radar, defenses, and preprogrammed or real time air-to-ground scenarios.

All of this is designed to guide the student into readiness for frontline flight operations faster, at lower cost than present systems, and with a higher skill level. To facilitate this, the Advanced Hawk has a data transfer capability interface with ground based Mission Planning and Debriefing Systems for better lesson planning, briefing, rehearsals, mission executions, and debriefings.

"The successful first flight of the Advanced Hawk concept demonstrator is the latest step in the aircraft's development and marks a significant milestone in Hawk's capability upgrade," says Steve Timms, Managing Director Defence Information, Training & Services at BAE Systems. "We already have the world's leading advanced jet trainer and the new features in Advanced Hawk have been developed after listening to our customers' views on where fast jet pilot training will go in the future and how we ensure the Hawk continues to meet their requirements.

"By using this demonstrator aircraft we have highlighted to existing users of Hawk that many of the proposed features of an Advanced Hawk, such as the large area display and new wing, could be achievable as upgrades."

The Advanced Hawk prototype is currently undergoing further flight testing and analysis.

Source: BAE Systems

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