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BAE SYSTEMS Hawk LIF Trainer - first graduates

25 Jul 2002

Australia's first students to complete fast jet training purely on the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft graduated from the F/A-18 operational conversion course in June 2002.

"This particular graduation represents a key milestone in the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter program for both the Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] and BAE Systems," said Mark Parkinson, Project Director - Lead-in-Fighter, BAE Systems Australia.

"There is no doubt that the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter has proved to be an effective bridge between propeller-driven basic trainers like the PC-9 and modern frontline jets such as the Hornet. The glass cockpit digital displays, optimised for the RAAF's F/A 18s, have eased the student training challenge," said Group Captain Bill Johnson, RAAF.

As part of the final phase of their conversion course, the eight F/A-18 Hornet pilots from RAAF Base Williamtown flew missions out of RAAF Base Townsville in Australia's north. During Operation High Sierra, the pilots undertook tactical flying and live bombing exercises.

The RAAF is currently completing the third Initial Fighter Course, also on the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft. This intermediary course prepares students to move on to flying the F/A-18 aircraft.

"The student training system is producing fast jet pilots with the necessary air combat tactics and weapons delivery required to defend and protect Australia well into the future," said Mr Parkinson.

"With the successful introduction of the Hawk Lead-in-Fighter into Australian service, the aircraft is also achieving the RAAF's goal to provide and support an outstanding state-of-the-art fast jet training capability," he added.

The A$850 million Hawk Lead-in Fighter contract was signed in 1997 with design, development, manufacture and creation of the support infrastructure established in just three years. The Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft entered service with the RAAF in October 2000.

In total, 33 Hawk Lead-in-Fighter aircraft were delivered to the RAAF: 18 Lead-in Fighters are based with the RAAF's No 76 Squadron at RAAF Williamtown, New South Wales; 14 aircraft are based with No 79 Squadron at RAAF Pearce, Western Australia; and the remaining aircraft is on loan to BAE Systems for completion of flight test instrumentation installation.

The Lead-in-Fighter Support Facility in Williamtown, NSW will provide deeper maintenance of the 33 Australian Hawk Lead-in Fighters throughout their service life. ENDS

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