BAE Welcomes Lead-in-fighter Contract Extension

The Hawk Lead-In Fighter will continue to train Australia’s frontline fighter pilots through to 2031 following today’s $1.5 billion commitment by the Australian Government.

The new contract includes the continuation of the existing in-service support, providing maintenance, engineering and supply chain services to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and will be the foundation for progressive upgrades of mission systems.

A 951 Adour engine upgrade for the Australian fleet will be incorporated by 2025 and will align the aircraft with the UK Royal Air Force’s T2 Hawk aircraft. Following the 2019 Lead-In Fighter Capability upgrade of the 33-strong fleet, the Hawk aircraft is today among the most capable jet trainers of its type in the world and very similar to the T2.

The mission systems upgrade will progressively update the software and hardware on the aircraft to maintain and enhance the Hawk’s performance as a fast jet trainer, meeting the emerging needs of pilots preparing to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and other modern aircraft.

The upgrades will be led by BAE Systems’ Australian engineers and supported by BAE Systems UK Hawk aircraft specialists. The increasing commonality of the Australian and UK Hawk fleets enhances the opportunity for future collaboration, reducing costs and enabling more effective enhancements.

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Gabby Costigan, said: “The contract extension reflects the world class capability of this aircraft, the teams which support the Hawk fleet at Williamtown and Pearce and our highly capable Australian supply chain.

“The Hawk Lead-In Fighter has a proven capability of providing high calibre aircrew to the Royal Australian Air Force.  

“Together with RAAF, Defence and the program’s supply chain, we are proud to be contributing to the delivery of the transformational training requirements for a fifth generation air force for the next decade.”

The Hawk Lead-In Fighter program currently sustains a direct workforce of 350 people at BAE Systems’ Williamtown (NSW) facility and at RAAF Base Pearce and an industry supply chain of 180 Australian businesses, including around 90 SMEs, many of which are based in the Hunter Valley.

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