Today marks 40 years since the BAE Systems Hawk achieved its first flight – starting a British aerospace and UK export success story.
First developed out of an RAF requirement to replace the Folland Gnat in the late 1960’s, the Hawker Siddeley Hawk became the staple of the RAF’s fast jet training programme in the mid-late 1970s. The aircraft has proved so popular with the Air Force that it remains in full active service both at RAF Valley (where the training squadrons are based) and at RAF Scampton; the base of the famous Red Arrows.
The success of the aircraft is down to its versatility. The Hawk has been reinvigorated throughout its life by various updates and enhancements, including a significantly upgraded cockpit and avionics systems for the T2. However, the basic and highly successful training platform has remained largely the same. This has seen the jet achieve over 1000 sales be exported to 18 air forces around the world and be developed into the T45 Goshawk carrier trainer, by the USAF.
Production of the Hawk still continues today at BAE Systems in Lancashire – supporting over 200 jobs at the production plant. The aircraft brings together both the heritage of the UK’s Aerospace industry, alongside its ability to adapt and bring new technology to meet customer demands, both domestic and international, and maintain the Hawk’s continuing global appeal.