BAE Systems Australia has won a ten-year contract to modernise and extend in-service support for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hawk 127 lead-in fighter training system.

The Australian Government’s $1.08bn (A$1.5bn) investment commitment will help RAAF to continue providing training to its frontline fighter pilots through to 2031.

As agreed, BAE Systems will also provide maintenance, engineering, and supply chain services to RAAF.

In addition, it will lay the basis for offering advanced upgrades of mission systems, which will gradually update the aircraft’s software and hardware.

The 33 Hawk 127 fleet will undergo an Mk951 Adour engine upgrade by 2025, positioning the aircraft with the UK Royal Air Force’s T2 Hawk aircraft.

Rolls-Royce will offer these Mk951 Adour engines.

This will help in fulfilling the emerging requirements of pilots preparing to operate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and other contemporary aircraft.

BAE Systems’ Australian engineers, along with BAE Systems UK Hawk aircraft specialists, will implement the upgrades.

The growing commonality of the Australian and UK Hawk fleets is expected to create opportunities for future collaboration, minimise expenses, and facilitate effective enhancements.

BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said: “The contract extension reflects the world-class capability of this aircraft, the teams which support the Hawk fleet at Williamtown and Pearce and our highly capable Australian supply chain.

“The Hawk Lead-In Fighter has a proven capability of providing high calibre aircrew to the Royal Australian Air Force. Together with RAAF, Defence and the program’s supply chain, we are proud to be contributing to the delivery of the transformational training requirements for a fifth-generation air force for the next decade.”

The Hawk Lead-In Fighter programme currently supports a direct workforce of 350 people at BAE Systems’ facility in Williamtown, New South Wales.

Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin received BAE Systems’ 3,000th vehicle management computer (VMC) and 1,000th active inceptor system (AIS) for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.