Saudi Arabia has reportedly launched its first domestically manufactured BAE Systems Hawk Mk 165 Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft at the King Abdulaziz Air Base in the Eastern Province.
The aircraft is used to train pilots and was rolled out at a ceremony attended by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other officials, according to Saudi Press Agency.
It is the first of 22 Hawk Mk 165 aircraft to be assembled locally as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 programme.
The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) already uses the Hawk T-65 and T-65A aircraft.
In May 2012, BAE Systems entered a contract to deliver 55 Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and 22 BAE Systems Hawk AJT aircraft to RSAF under the Saudi British Defence Co-operation Programme.
The contract terms specified that the UK-built Hawk aircraft would be delivered from 2016.
Another agreement was reached in February 2016 to supply 22 Hawk trainer jets to the middle-eastern nation. The deal also included associated ground equipment and training support.
The trainer jets are powered by a single Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 951 turbofan engine. Hawk is equipped with advanced radar, weapons, and defensive aids training simulation technology.
They can be used to prepare pilots for life in the cockpit of new and next-generation combat jets such as the Typhoon and F-35.
The cockpit of the jet features a data transfer capability interface with ground-based mission planning and debriefing systems.
This will enable accurate and timely mission planning, briefing, rehearsals, as well as mission execution and debriefs.
BAE Systems has received around 1,000 orders for the trainer jets. The aircraft is in service with eight countries across the globe.
The company is working on introducing enhancements such as large area display, real and simulated ‘smart’ weapons integration and a helmet mounted display system.