The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) final Hawk Mk127 advanced trainer aircraft is set to be upgraded and modernised at BAE Systems’ Williamtown maintenance facility.

Since 2016, the upgrade project has been carried out for the overhaul of a total fleet of 33 Mk127 aircraft.

Due to be carried out next year, the modernisation of the last aircraft will conclude the RAAF’s strategically important lead-in fighter capability assurance programme.

BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said: “The upgraded BAE Systems Hawk aircraft provides the RAAF with a similar capability as the most modern Hawk aircraft around the world.

“It’s been a benchmark programme in terms of how BAE Systems Australia and UK engineering teams, together with industry partners and RAAF technicians, have collaborated to deliver this enhanced capability ahead of schedule.

“The upgrade programme has been delivered without adversely impacting the training of the RAAF’s fast jet aircrew, which is a significant achievement.”

“It’s also testament to all involved that the upgrade programme has been delivered without adversely impacting the training of the RAAF’s fast jet aircrew, which is a significant achievement.”

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The Hawk Mk127 has served as a major part of the RAAF’s fast jet training system since 2001 for highly trained aircrew members in the cockpits of different fighter aircraft, including F/A-18 A/B Classic Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.

The Hawk lead-in fighter jet is prepared to deliver high calibre pilots for the F-35A joint strike fighter fleet.

Upgraded Hawk trainers provide RAAF pilots with new training capabilities, including simulated radar, electronic warfare, digital mapping, ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance.

In addition, the project includes the replacement of two legacy synthetic training devices with three full mission simulators provided by CAE.

First launched by BAE Systems in September 1998, the Hawk Mk127 lead-in fighter trainer features a fully digital cockpit, open architecture computers and airborne simulation systems.