The BAe Hawk has maintained one of the most successful aerial tenures of any lightweight jet trainer aircraft with origins dating some decades back. The type is characterized as an "advanced trainer" though it does retain light attack as a secondary role. The Hawk was born out of a British military requirement to replace their aging and expensive-to-maintain Folland Gnat series of light jet-powered aircraft. The addition of light strike support in the Hawk design also meant that the aircraft could serve double-duty within the inventory of any buyer and broaden its export sales appeal from an economical standpoint. To date, over 900 examples of the Hawk have been built spanning several notable variants. The United States Navy operates a highly-modified form of the Hawk as the "T-45 Goshawk" detailed below and in its own entry on this site. Other major operators have gone on to include Australia, Finland and India. Some 18 total nations currently utilize some form of the Hawk in their aircraft stables - an amazing statistic considering the type was first elected to service in 1976.
A RAF requirement was born in 1964 calling for a new, modern jet-powered trainer. Hawker Siddeley, itself originating in the pre-World War 2 years as Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company, took on an in-house design initiative utilizing its own funds to eventually showcase their product to inquiring minds at the RAF and, in 1969, the P.1182 was formally designated, eventually becoming universally known as the HS.1182. British military authorities liked what they saw and tabbed the design as their next jet trainer in October of 1971, resulting in a procurement contract for some 175 by the following year. The aircraft was officially designated as the "Hawk" for the British inventory. The prototype Hawk went airborne for the first time on August 21st, 1974 and later accepted in production form as the Hawk T.Mk 1 beginning in April of 1976. A total of 176 Hawk T.Mk 1s were delivered to the RAF. In 1977, the Hawker Siddeley name was no more, instead becoming British Aerospace. British Aerospace itself would turn into BAe Systems MAS Division in 2007 - officially giving the aircraft its more common marking of "BAe Hawk".
Design of the Hawk was conventional by any approach. The two-seat crew - made up of an instructor in the rear cockpit and his student pilot in the front - sat in tandem under a wide field-of-view canopy. Controls at each position were redundant with the instructor having the ability to override student functions as needed. The cockpit was situated well-forward in the design behind a pointed, sloped-down nose assembly. Intakes to aspirate the single engine mounting came in the form of two half-circle openings to either side of the rear cockpit. The turbofan engine was buried deep within the short fuselage which was streamlined with a certain engineering elegance common to British military aircraft. The intake ducts bulged out at the fuselage sides but were absorbed into the fuselage proper to continue the aircraft's smooth design layout. Wings were fitted amidships and sported modest sweep along the leading edge and lesser sweep along the trailing edge. They were also low-mounted assemblies along the fuselage to help increased expediency for ground operation. The empennage was traditional with a single vertical tail fin flanked by a pair of downward-canted (known as "anhedral") horizontal tailplanes. The tailplanes were all-moving surfaces to add to the Hawk's agility. Small ventral strakes were noted along the empennage base. The undercarriage was conventional in layout and consisted of two main single-wheeled landing gear legs and a single-wheeled nose leg. The main legs retracted inwards towards centerline while the nose leg retracted forwards.
Standard armament for the Hawk was a gunpod commonly fitted to the centerline hardpoint under the fuselage (there were, in effect, five total hardpoints). The gunpod housed a 30mm ADEN series cannon for close-in work but remained an optional fixture. There were originally two underwing hardpoints (now since expanded to four) cleared for the carrying of external munitions including guided/homing missiles, rocket pods and conventional drop bombs with the two inner-most hardpoints plumbed to accept fuel from external droptanks. Up to 6,800lbs of external stores could be lifted by the Hawk airframe.
After several years of operational service, it was thought to arm the T.Mk 1 models for point air defense service in the event of total war across Europe airspace with the Soviet Union. As such, provision was added to support the American AIM-9L series short-ranged, air-to-air missiles. This produced the T.Mk 1A model designation of which 89 were modified as such in a period spanning 1983 to 1986. As the Hawk inherently lacked its own radar facility, it would have relied on direction from RAF radar-equipped mounts such as the Panavia Tornado swing-wing series of air defense aircraft working in unison with the Hawk. Beyond its use by the RAF, the British Royal Navy also saw some value in the new Hawk system and took on at least 12 examples from their RAF brethren for the purpose of training naval radar specialists and ship-based weapons personnel.
Always eyeing the potential export market, developers of the Hawk were keen in adding the aforementioned dual-purpose role into the basic Hawk design. The first export-minded airframe came under the "Hawk Mk 50" designation and featured a higher-rated powerplant four underwing stores for munitions in the ordnance training or operational strike role. Finland received this Hawk type as the Hawk 51 and these were followed by a second order known as Hawk 51As. Kenya received these same versions as the Hawk 52 and Indonesia took them on as the Hawk 53. Some 89 examples of the Hawk Mk 50 were produced in all.
The Hawk Mk 60 was the next logical export progression of the Hawk family line. It directly superseded the Hawk Mk 50 in BAe marketing and offered a broader strike role option with increased munitions support. The engine was also upgraded to a more powerful Rolls-Royce Adour 861 series. A new revised wing was implemented that featured leading edge fencing. A new flap was also introduced as was support for AIM-9 Sidewinder and Matra air-to-air missiles. The Hawk Mk 60 was fitted with a single Rolls-Royce Adour 861 turbofan engine. This provided the airframe with a top speed of 635 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 46,000 feet. A rate-of-climb equal to 11,800 feet per minute was reported. Up to 6,615lbs of external stores could be carried. The United States Navy took on the Hawk Mk 60 and forged it into the highly-modified T-45 Goshawk (trainer detailed below) for its carrier aviation instruction program. Zimbabwe accepted the Hawk Mk 60 simply as the Hawk 60 and the similar follow-up Hawk 60A between October of 1982 and September of 1992. Dubai received it as the Hawk 61 while Abu Dhabi knew it as the Hawk 63. Abu Dhabi later upgraded their original Hawk 63 to the newer Hawk 63A standard which was then followed by the similar Hawk 63C. Kuwait export versions became the Hawk 64 and Saudi Arabian models were the Hawk 65. A follow-up order produced the Hawk 65A for the Saudi Arabian Air Force. Switzerland received the aircraft as the Hawk 66 while South Korea accepted it as the Hawk 67.
The Hawk was inevitably upgraded in more serious fashion to produce the Hawk 100 production model. This introduced optional support for Forward-Looking InfraRed (FLIR) functionality and laser rangefinder within a lengthened nose assembly. A modified wing with a fixed leading edge drop, longer running flaps and Sidewinder wingtip missile functionality was introduced as was Hands-on-Throttle-and-Stick (HOTAS) support and a more powerful Rolls-Royce Adour 871 series turbofan engine. Avionics were also expanded and Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and HUD was used. Power for the Hawk 100 was provided for by the Rolls-Royce Adour 871 series turbofan engine. This provided the Hawk 100 with a top speed of 644 miles per hour with a 44,500 feet service ceiling. Up to 6,615lbs of external stores could be carried. The Hawk 102 was delivered to Abu Dhabi, the Hawk 103 to Oman, the Hawk 108 to Malaysia, the Hawk 109 to Indonesia, the Hawk 115 to Canada (as the CT-155 Hawk) and the Hawk 129 to Bahrain. Canada accepted the Hawk Mk 115 between 2000 and 2001 when Bombardier purchased 19 examples for NATO pilot flight training at NFTC.
The Hawk 120 LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Trainer) was a Hawk production model designation appearing in late 1999 and chosen by South African authorities to staff their air force ranks. This variant fitted a Rolls-Royce Adour 951 turbofan engine as well as HOTAS, CRT cockpit displays, HUD and improved digital processing. Deliveries of some 24 examples began in 2000 with the first example being produced directly by workers at BAe in Brough, UK and delivered to the SAAF. The remaining 23 production aircraft were locally-produced in South Africa by Denel.
The Australian government signed a procurement contract for 33 production-quality Hawk 127 LIFT examples in 1997. Deliveries spanned from 2000 into 2001. To support and facilitate pilot and mechanic training, a specialized center was built in Williamtown, Australia and a pair of operational flight trainers and a single fatigue test aircraft was also added to the delivery mix. Unlike the South African model, the Australian LIFT version utilized the Rolls-Royce Adour 871 series turbofan engines. The Hawk 127 has since staffed at least two RAAF squadrons with operations and support ongoing as of this writing.
The Hawk 128 (Hawk T.Mk 2) is the latest Hawk incarnation to date and based on the South African Hawk 120 LIFT and Australian Hawk 127 LIFT series export models. It is currently being marketed by BAe as an "Advanced Jet Trainer" (ADJ) and has already found a customer in the British military. BAe touts the ADJ version as the premiere stepping stone for pilots soon to enter the world of flight in modern and future combat systems such as those found in the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet / Superhornet series, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the upcoming Lockheed F-35 Lightning II multi-role aircraft. First flight of the T.Mk 2 was recorded on July 27th, 2005. Upgrades and updates over that as found in previous Hawk offerings include three full-color LCD cockpit monitors covering various customizable system and mission management settings, night-vision goggle support, improved HUD, improved HOTAS controls, Inertial Navigation GPS support, improved electronics throughout and an air-to-air refueling probe for increased operational ranges. The cockpit also features a built-in weapons simulator for budget-conscious ordnance training and students can have various sensor readings simulated to train for responses to ever-evolving mission parameters without much added cost. Power for the Hawk 128 production model is derived from a single Rolls-Royce/ Turbomeca Adour Mk.951 series turbofan engine rated at 6,500lbs of thrust. This supplies the airframe with a top speed of 638 miles per hour and a range of 1,565 miles. Service ceiling is 44,500 feet with a rate-of-climb equal to 9,300 feet per minute. The engine is managed by the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system. Deliveries of the T.Mk 2 model are ongoing as of this writing with the Royal Air Force having committed to procuring 28 examples of the new ADJ.
The Hawk 129 AJT was supplied to Bahrain in a six-example-strong delivery beginning in 2003. The aircraft also came with full maintenance and support by BAe. Bahraini maintenance personnel trained out of the BAe Warton facility in the UK prior to working on their Royal Bahraini Air Force mounts back home.
Indian and British military ties were further strengthened with the former's commitment to purchase 66 examples of the modernized Hawk Mk 132 for the Indian Air Force. The first 24 examples were produced by BAe and delivered to the Indian government in December of 2007 while the remainder were tabbed to be locally-produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India. Operational capability of this version within the ranks of the IAF came about in February of 2008. The type is fitted with the Rolls-Royce Adour Mk.871 turbofan engine and, as of July 2010, a follow-up order for 57 additional Hawk Mk 132 models has emerged - these to be split between 40 IAF examples the remaining 17 going to the Indian Navy.
The Hawk 200 is regarded as the single-most distinct and lethal version of the Hawk family line. Unlike the trainers before it, the Hawk 200 is a single-seat mount and categorized specifically as a lightweight multirole fighter. This variant was born in a 1984 BAe initiative to help broaden the Hawk appeal worldwide and a modified demonstrator was made airborne on May 19th, 1986. The Hawk 200 differed from earlier Hawk forms mainly by featuring an all-new forward fuselage. There was also the requisite full-span wing flaps, wingtip missile support and optional air-to-air refueling capability. The Hawk 200 could, therefore, be called upon to undertake a variety of sortie types to include air defense and neutralization of naval threats as well as air-to-air interception, close-air support of friendly ground forces and conventional ground strike attacks against enemy fortifications and concentrations. Despite the loss of the evaluation model to accident, the Hawk 200 development continued with preproduction forms emerging in 1987. Commonality of parts between it and the Hawk 100 were said to be in the vicinity of 80 percent meaning that current Hawk operators could enjoy some logistical latitude when owning both Hawk forms. Radar was trialed in the Hawk 200 through the "Hawk 200RDA" demonstrator aircraft featuring the F-16A-like AN/APG-66H series radar in the nose. Like other modernized forms of the Hawk, the Hawk 200 sported an all-glass cockpit, digital systems, advanced avionics, HUD and HOTAS. Oman became the first Hawk 200 purchaser with delivery of the Hawk 203. Malaysia took 18 of the Hawk 208 while Indonesia accepted 32 examples of the Hawk 209. The Royal Saudi Air Force entertained the prospect of the Hawk 205 but never engaged.
While the US Navy T-45 Goshawk is a plain offshoot of the British BAe Hawk, it is largely considered its own aircraft design due to the myriad of modifications brought about to fulfill USN requirements for an advanced, carrier-capable jet trainer to replace their aging T-2C Buckeyes and TA-4J skyhawks. The USN selection of the Hawk was a huge endorsement of the BAe product considering most US politicians normally fought to keep military spending in-house with American companies and their applicable constituency votes. BAe helped their US chances by teaming with aviation giant McDonnell Douglas (now a subsidiary of The Boeing Company) to forged a professional mutual partnership and seal the lucrative procurement deal with the American government.
The Goshawk (named by the USN to differentiate the aircraft from the already-existing HAWK missile within the US inventory) was identified by its two-wheeled front landing gear leg, increased tail surfaces, wider undercarriage berth, leading edge wing slats and arrestor hook. Additionally, the single-plane underside airbrake of the original Hawk was replaced by a two-piece system mounting an airbrake to either side of the empennage. The double ventral strakes were also replaced by a single installation and small airflow "disruptors" could be seen ahead of each horizontal tailplane. The Rolls-Royce Adour 871 engine was slightly modified to American taste and in an effort to counter weight gains sponsored by the USN changes as the "Rolls-Royce Adour F405-RR-401", this rated at 5,900lbs thrust. As the original Hawk was predominantly a land-based design, considerable effort went into converting the aircraft to become a USN carrier-friendly mount, delaying evaluation trials until 1991 and official training of USN airmen until 1994. Amazingly, the formal USN requirement for a new carrier-based jet trainer originated back in 1975 showcasing some "patience" on the part of the USN to allow BAe to perfect their Hawk. The original 302-strong T-45 Goshawk order was cut down to just 223 examples following the end of the Cold War.
Beyond its military use, early success of the Hawk inspired the RAF to introduce the nimble little aircraft as the primary mount of their "Red Arrows" aerial acrobatics team in 1979, further strengthening the reach of the Hawk. Additionally, this served BAe well in showcasing the inherently capabilities of their agile aircraft system to other potential global customers.
January 2017 - Hindustan Aeronautics of India has unveiled its first "Hawk-i" advanced trainer. The design is a locally produced, upgraded Indian version of the storied BAe Hawk.
February 2017 - BAe Systems has unveiled their "Advanced Hawk" product. The advanced trainer, with developmental assistance from Hindustran Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India, was revealed during Aero Indian 2017. One of the more important qualities of this development is its support for the new MBDA ASRAAM air-to-air missile.
October 2017 - BAe Systems has announced a six-strong Hawk trainer order from Qatar. This order coincides with the nation's plans to procure some 24 Eurofighter Typhoons as well.
July 2018 - It was announced that Qatar is planning to procure nine Hawk advanced jet trainers. This order forms a portion of its earlier commitment to purchase twenty-four Eurofighter Typhoons for its frontline fighter needs (the contract was signed in December of 2017). Deliveries of the Hawks are planned for 2021.
September 2018 - The first of nine Hawks to Qatar is scheduled to be delivered during 2021.
December 2018 - The BAe "Improved Hawk" is a contender for a 33-strong advanced jet trainer requirement of the Royal Australian Air Force.
March 2019 - Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hawks have completed their modernization program which began in 2014. The work covered upgrades to thirty-three BAe Hawks currently in service and extends their flying lives into 2040.
August 2020 - A fourteen year fatigue testing program has enhanced the possibility of the Royal Australian Air Force modernization its BAe Hawk fleet instead of seeking an outright replacement for the aging type.
October 2020 - Qatar is contemplating basing its Hawk fleet in the United Kingdom amidst a backdrop of closer defense ties between the two countries.
June 2021 - BAe Systems has begun flights of the first Hawk examples at Warton intended for the nation of Qatar. These are designated Hawk Mk.167.
July 2021 - The RAF plans to retire its aging fleet of Hawk T.1 Advanced Jet Trainers at the end of March 2022. This will bring an end to some 50 years of service with the type in a lead role.
August 2021 - The first two of nine Hawk aircraft destined for a joint Qatar-RAF training squadron have been delivered to Leeming AB.
Australia; Bahrain; Canada; Finland; India; Indonesia; Kenya; Kuwait; Malaysia; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; South Africa; South Korea; Switzerland; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States (T-45); Zimbabwe
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
Survivability enhanced by way of onboard electronic or physical countermeasures enacted by the aircraft or pilot/crew.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
PILOT / CREW EJECTION SYSTEM
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Beyond a pilot, the aircraft takes advantage of additional crew specialized in specific functions aboard the aircraft.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.
40.8 ft (12.43 m)
32.6 ft (9.94 m)
13.1 ft (3.98 m)
9,877 lb (4,480 kg)
20,062 lb (9,100 kg)
+10,185 lb (+4,620 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the BAe Hawk 128 production variant)
monoplane / low-mounted / swept-back
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage.
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.
(Structural descriptors pertains to the BAe Hawk 128 production variant)
1 x Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 951 turbofan engine with FADEC developing 6,500lb of thrust.
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