Eyes of a Hawk

Today I flew with IV Squadron in one of their Hawk T2s. The Squadron is visiting RAF Lossiemouth from their usual base of RAF Valley on Anglesey and the Hawk T2 is the RAFs new fast-jet trainer, preparing pilots for modern, high-performance, networked aircraft, fighting in the battle space of the future.

So what’s all the fuss about and why is the Hawk T2 such a big deal? Well, I conducted my fast-jet training on the Hawk T1 and although the T2 looks similar, its a totally different aircraft with a different ethos and radically different planning, doing and debriefing technology!

The cockpit is very similar to Typhoon

Students are treated to electronic mission planning, very similar to that used by Tornado and Typhoon crews and the aircraft is fully electric. That means it is software-driven and in fact the way of interacting with it is very similar to the Typhoon, right down to the way the Hands On Throttle And Stick works, the Head-Up Display symbols and the integration of a hugely impressive array of modern, networked sensors. The T2 has datalink, modern radar emulator, defensive warning and countermeasures emulator, full Head-Up Display, Ground Proximity Warning System, Collision Warning System – you get the idea! This jet is totally brimming with technology!

What this means is that during training, students are exposed to a level of immersion and mission realism that I could only have dreamed of during my training. In turn, we all benefit as taxpayers because more and more training can be completed on this relatively inexpensive aircraft rather than on the more costly to operate Front Line jets. In turn, pilots arrive at their Front Line squadrons better trained, better experienced and further ahead than ever before!

On recovery to Lossiemouth, with the iconic lighthouse in the background

I really enjoyed my sortie today, especially with last week’s Typhoon trip to compare it with. The sortie was a 2 versus 1 low level evasion sortie and contained the level of challenge that previously would only be experienced on a Front Line aircraft. Congratulations too, for the Navy student pilot who passed this, his final sortie and will now go to USA to train on the Harrier or F18 Hornet ahead of eventual duties on the UK’s newest fighter – the F35 Lightning II and will contribute to delivering Carrier Enabled Power Projection in the future.

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