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All eyes on the Hawk

Posted 17 January 2018 · Add Comment

BAE Systems has flown the demonstrator for a new so-called Advanced Hawk configuration. Jon Lake takes a look at the new aircraft.

The Advanced Hawk demonstrator made its maiden flight in its new configuration from the company’s Warton, Lancashire site on June 7 2017, after being unveiled at the Aero India show at Bengaluru on February 14 2017.
The availability of this enhanced model could lead to new orders from Gulf and Middle Eastern air forces.
The new variant will be a faster, more agile Hawk that can also carry smart weapons, and the programme aims to give the aircraft an “edge in fast-jet pilot training, as well as offering increased operational utility”, according to Dave Corfield, BAE Systems head of Hawk India.
The Advanced Hawk is intended to be closer in performance and capability – both real and synthetic – to the frontline aircraft that the pilots are training to use.
The original BAE Systems Hawk advanced trainer is still going strong 43 years after its maiden flight, not least in the Middle East, where the type remains in service in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
Though they look very similar to the original Hawk, a new generation of Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) Hawk variants was introduced in the late 1990s. These aircraft had only 10% commonality with their forebears, introducing a new airframe with four times the fatigue life, and with advanced embedded training systems that made them arguably the most effective advanced pilot training aircraft in service today.
Production of the latest batches of Hawks for Oman (eight Hawk Mk 166) and Saudi Arabia (22 Hawk Mk 165) is now complete, and most of these have now been delivered.
BAE Systems confirmed that it had signed a contract to supply the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) with a second batch of Hawk 165s in February 2015 and, more recently, the company confirmed that it was to establish a Hawk aircraft final assembly line in Saudi Arabia as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 programme. This is the economic diversification strategy pioneered and led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and interior minister.
First deliveries from the Saudi Hawk production line are expected in the third quarter of 2018.
But the Hawk has been facing increasingly tough competition from newer designs like the Leonardo Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master and KAI T-50 Golden Eagle. And, in the US T-X trainer competition, the Hawk was dropped by Northrop-Grumman in favour of a new airframe design.
There was reportedly concern that, while the Hawk’s embedded training systems, emulation and simulation were second-to-none, its airframe/engine combination was unable to meet some T-X key performance parameters.
It is understood that, following the failure of Northrop’s clean sheet of paper T-X, serious consideration was given to submitting a new Hawk-based bid. Indeed, some of the improvements on today’s Advanced Hawk may have originated from work undertaken to allow it to fully meet T-X requirements, as well as to meet Indian and other requirements for a higher-performance, combat-capable Hawk light attack aircraft.
But, according to BAE Systems, the Advanced Hawk was developed after listening to its customers’ views on where fast-jet pilot training would go in the future and how the aircraft could be upgraded to ensure that it continues to meet their requirements.
The Advanced Hawk features a modified wing with an almost full-span active leading-edge slat (using the slat actuation system from the Tejas light combat aircraft) and an upgraded combat flap. The leading-edge slat has three manually selectable positions (0°, 6° and 16°) on the demonstrator, but would be fully variable (and automatically actuated) in production models.
The new wing confers significant improvements in take-off and landing performance, a 17% improvement in climb performance, a 20% reduction in turn radius, and a 25% improvement in turn rate, as well as giving much better high-alpha (angle-of-attack) capability, with wind-tunnel testing and simulation indicating that the Advanced Hawk should be able to achieve 22-23 units of Alpha, about ten units more than the current Hawk.
All in all, the Advanced Hawk should be comparable to current frontline fighters like the F-16 in terms of manoeuvrability.
To cope with the increase in angle of attack (AoA), the height of the vertical stabiliser will be increased by nine inches, and a yaw-axis stability augmentation system will be provided to cope with any adverse yaw.
The Advanced Hawk will be powered by the 6,500lb Rolls Royce Adour Mk.951 turbofan, and not the 6,000lb Adour Mk.871 used on many in-service Hawks. Some consideration has been given to providing even greater thrust.
The Advanced Hawk has an all-new cockpit with a large area display, similar to that used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but capable of replicating the cockpit configurations of older aircraft, including those with analogue instruments or with smaller multifunction LCD displays.
The aircraft incorporates BAE’s LiteHUD, a low-profile digital head-up display, and is also fitted with ground proximity warning system, traffic collision avoidance system, and a datalink.
With these cockpit systems, the Advanced Hawk can simulate or emulate the latest frontline sensors and weapons, including those of the F-35.
The Advanced Hawk is also fitted for air-to-air refuelling and has a radar warning receiver and countermeasures dispensers, as well as provision for a laser designator pod and full smart weapons capability – making it suitable for use as a frontline light attack aircraft, as well as for realistic weapons training.
It is the first Hawk platform with a full frontline combat capability, (the aircraft has been referred to as the Combat Hawk), and has both beyond-visual-range and precision-strike capabilities
The Advanced Hawk is the result of a cooperative, jointly funded 24-month programme with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), and it will be jointly marketed by BAE Systems and HAL.
The aircraft will be offered to new customers, and also to existing Hawk operators, and the companies have projected a market for at least 300 airframes over the next 10 years.
Most Advanced Hawk features and capabilities, including the large area display and new wing, could be retrofitted into older in-service Hawks, either as modules, or as a whole. Depending on the customer, BAE and HAL will jointly decide where such upgrades will take place.
As a new-build aircraft, it is anticipated that most Advanced Hawks would be built in and exported from India, which already has a low-cost production line and an existing Indian supply chain, though the aircraft could also be built at BAE’s Warton plant.
The related HAL Hawk-i adds Indian-developed embedded training system, mission computer, communications, datalink and countermeasures systems.

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