The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Hawk Mark 127 aircraft has undergone a structural testing programme conducted by engineers from BAE Systems and the Australia Defence Department.

During the programme, the aircraft achieved the equivalent of 50,000 flying hours.

Hawk has a safety clearance to fly 10,000 hours and is the most advanced standard of the aircraft.

The team of engineers subjected and tested the airframe on the range of loads it would experience in actual flight.

Durability tests were performed at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in Melbourne.

Based on projected operational requirements, the test simulated real-life fleet usage.

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The testing programme commenced in February 2006. It aimed to demonstrate the structural integrity of a Mark 127 airframe to five times its intended life.

The airframe’s components will undergo a detailed inspection for the following two years.

BAE Systems International Markets head Mike Swales said: “This a major milestone for the Hawk programme, which proves there are many years more life left in the 650 aircraft we have training pilots across the globe every day.

“To achieve 50,000 flying hours in structural testing is five times the current clearance of the most modern Hawk in air forces across the world and more than ten times the current flying hours on most of the Australian fleet.

“Hawk has been the world’s flying classroom, preparing more than 20,000 pilots for life in a frontline fast jet, for decades and this is proof that it has many years more safe, effective flying ahead of it with customers set to operate the aircraft well into the 2040s.”

Currently, Hawk is in service with 13 countries for training their pilots in a fast jet cockpit.

Air forces in the UK, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman operate the similar standards of aircraft in their Hawk fleets.

Currently, nine Hawk aircraft are in development for the Qatar Emiri Air Force scheduled to enter service next year.