BAE Systems has delivered the first upgraded Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The company, along with RAAF technicians, has completed the upgrade of 12 of the 33 aircraft.

Following the upgrade, all 33 aircraft will be almost identical to the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) of the UK’s Royal Air Force, BAE stated.

The company’s engineering teams in Australia and the UK, along with CAE and Cubic Defense Applications have participated in delivering this enhanced capability to the RAAF.

BAE Systems Australia chief executive Glynn Phillips said: “The upgraded BAE Systems Hawk aircraft provides the RAAF with a leading edge capability and, coupled with the CAE full mission simulators, delivers a highly impressive lead-in fighter training system (LIFTS) that will ensure Hawk retains its effectiveness into the next decade and beyond.

“The upgrade brings the RAAF Hawk up to the same platform capability as the most modern Hawk aircraft around the globe, allowing for future shared development and potentially shared cost across multiple users.”

The upgraded Hawk provides new training capabilities, such as simulated radar, electronic warfare, digital mapping, ground proximity warning system, and traffic collision avoidance.

"The upgrade brings the RAAF Hawk up to the same platform capability as the most modern Hawk aircraft around the globe."

Two legacy synthetic training devices were also replaced with three full mission simulators provided by CAE as part of the upgrade.

The upgrade of the aircraft also included full ground testing and developmental flight clearance by a joint RAAF/BAE Systems team.

The Hawk aircraft fleet embodiment upgrade started in 2014 at BAE Systems Australia at its Fast Jet facility at Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia, and the fleet upgrade is expected to be completed by early 2019.

Using the upgraded Hawk fleet, the RAAF will train pilots in operating F/A-18 A/B Classic Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters when introduced into service later next year.

Image: Hawk lead-in fighter. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.