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Hawk 127 airframe completes life extension tests in Australia

12th August 2020 - 13:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A team from BAE Systems in the UK and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) has completed a major structural testing programme on a specially adapted Hawk 127 trainer jet, to achieve the equivalent of 50,000 flying hours (five times its safety clearance for the Royal Australian Air Force - RAAF).

‘This a major milestone for the Hawk programme which proves there is many years more life left in the 650 aircraft we have training pilots across the globe every day,’ said Mike Swales, head of international markets at BAE Systems.

The airframe was subjected to and tested on the range of loads it would experience in actual flight, with durability tests carried out at the DSTO facility in Melbourne to simulate real-life fleet usage based on projected operational requirements.

This marked the culmination of a 14-year programme to extend the structural integrity of the Hawk airframe far beyond its intended life.

‘The airframe will now be dismantled with components undergoing a further two-year period of detailed inspections,’ BAE Systems stated on 10 August.

Shephard Defence Insight notes that the RAAF fleet of 33 Hawk 127s was upgraded from 2014 to 2019,  involving local firms and international companies such as CAE and Cubic. Improvements included a simulated radar, EW, digital mapping, a ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance.

Despite this upgrade and the latest achievement, Australia in June officially began the search to replace the Hawk 127, by issuing an RfI for a future lead-in fighter training system.

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