Hawks on the Rock

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Hawks on the Rock

Date : 
26/04/12


Hawks on the Rock


Originally formed as Number 8 (Naval) Squadron on 26 October 1916 at Dunkirk. Reformed at Ismaila, Egypt on 1 February 1920 with RE8s and then Bristol Fighters on army co-operation duties.

No 208 joined the War proper with the Italian declaration of War in June 1940. Disbanded in September 1971, then reformed in 1974 with Buccaneers in the low-level strike role 208 became one of the last RAF squadrons with these aircraft when they were retired in 1994.

The numberplate then passed to one of the Hawk squadrons based at RAF Valley as part of No 4 Flying Training School.

BAE Hawk T MK1

In the current RAF training programme, the Hawk T1 is the first jet aircraft that a student pilot will fly.

An advanced, and very successful trainer, Hawk is used to teach operational tactics, air-to-air and air-to-ground firing, air combat and low-level operating procedures.

The first of 175 Hawks ordered for the RAF took to the air on 21 August 1974 and deliveries to RAF Valley commenced just over two years later. Aircraft were delivered with the ability to carry weapons and so the Valley- and Brawdy-based Hunters used for weapons training were retired and a new single-aircraft syllabus developed to take advantage of the Hawk’s capabilities. Other training units to receive the Hawk were Tactical Weapons Units at Brawdy and Lossiemouth, the Central Flying School at Scampton and Valley and, in 1979, the RAF Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows.

In 1983, a contract was signed for the modification of 88 Hawks to enable them to carry Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and be used as ‘local defence’ fighters at airfields around the country, a role that the aircraft no longer carries out. With the reduction in RAF training requirements, the majority of the Hawk fleet is now concentrated at Valley, with No 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming holding the only sizeable fleet away from Anglesey, and many of these aircraft have undergone a major refurbishment to extend their service life.

Hawks are also flown by 100 Squadron from RAF Leeming in a wide variety of very specialised roles such as target facilities and specialist electronic warfare training. The Joint Forward Air Controller Training and Standards Unit (JFACTSU) (also based at Leeming) use Hawks for their training requirements, as well as by many test establishments and the Royal Navy.

One of the most successful British aircraft in recent history, a number of foreign air arms fly the Hawk (and its single-seat derivatives) including: Abu Dhabi, Finland, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States Navy.
Roles

Advanced Flying Training (Fast-Jet)
Test and other specialized roles

Armament

One 30mm Aden cannon pack and up to 5,600lb (2,540kg) of underwing stores (rockets, bombs and missiles).

On 24 October 2006, Lord Drayson, Minister for Defence Procurement, announced that a £450 million contract has been awarded to BAE Systems to build 28 Hawk T2 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft which are planned to be delivered to RAF Valley in October 2008.

The Hawk T2 will prepare fast jet aircrew for flying front-line aircraft with a modern cockpit environment of digital displays sophisticated navigation and advanced avionics.

The contract covers production of the 28 aircraft and the provision of logistic spares, and initial training. The Hawk T2 will prepare fast jet aircrew for flying front-line aircraft by delivering a modern cockpit environment with digital displays sophisticated navigation and advanced avionics, including simulations of the latest airborne weapons systems.

This will greatly improve the training given to both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.

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