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Hawk Jets Mark New Era For Australian Air Force

Hawk Jets Mark New Era For Royal Australian Air Force

The Royal Australian Air Force will enter the 21st Century with a new high-tech training aircraft for its future fast jet pilots.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Errol McCormack, said the new Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighter represented a new era for the RAAF and a quantum leap in its fast jet-training program.

He was speaking at an official ceremony marking the Hawk 127's introduction into service at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle in New South Wales.

Manufactured by BAE SYSTEMS, the Hawk 127 jets replace the RAAF's ageing fleet of Macchi aircraft as the new Lead-In Fighter (LIF) for training fast jet pilots. The role of the Lead-In Fighter is, as the name suggests, an interim step for pilots chosen for fast jet operations in the frontline F/A-18 Hornet and F-111 squadrons.

Air Marshal McCormack said the Hawk's introduction into service would significantly enhance the RAAF's capabilities and maintain its high standards in pilot training.

"The Hawk 127 will allow us to produce a better qualified graduate from the Introductory Fighter Course and, ultimately, it will be used to train our future pilots for the demanding challenges of whatever platform eventually replaces the Hornets and F-111s.

"This new Lead-In Fighter is critical to ensuring that the flow of fast jet crews meets the demands of the two user groups - the F-111 squadrons in the Strike Reconnaissance Group at Amberley (QLD) and the F/A-18 squadrons in the Tactical Fighter Group at Williamtown (NSW) and Tindal (NT)," he said.

Pilots chosen for fast jet operations spend three months with No 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth (WA) learning to fly the Hawk. They then move to No 76 Squadron at Williamtown for the Introductory Fighter Course which focuses on fighter operations. Their next step is the actual fast jet conversion course with No 6 Squadron on F-111s at Amberley (QLD) or with No 2 Operational Conversion Unit on Hornets at Williamtown.

In addition to its LIF role, the Hawk 127 will also be used as air support for the Army and Navy.

Air Marshal McCormack said the LIF Project had provided the RAAF with a range of computer based training devices, ensuring a comprehensive and effective training system for both air and ground crews.

He said the delivery of the Hawks marked a new era for the RAAF as it entered its 80th anniversary year but it also signaled the end of an era with the retirement of the Italian MB-326 Macchi jets. A total of 97 Macchis were delivered in 1967/68 including 10 that were allocated to the Navy and transferred back to the RAAF in 1983. Air Marshal McCormack said many pilots had received their wings on the Macchis, which had given sterling service over three decades. "The public would also remember the Macchis from when the Roulettes used them in aerobatic displays," he said.

The LIF project represents a significant partnering achievement between BAE SYSTEMS and the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO).

The Head of DMO's Aerospace Systems Division, Air Vice-Marshal Ray Conroy, said its hallmark was the groundbreaking acquisition strategy.

He explained that the key innovation was the support arrangements for the new aircraft throughout the projected 25-year life span of the fleet.

"By combining the acquisition and the in-service phase under the one contract, the DMO was able to ensure a long-term approach to the design, development, delivery and support of the new fleet.

"The DMO is therefore in a true partnership with Industry. Those key operational capabilities, such as the daily operation of aircraft, remain with Defence. The difference with LIF is that the responsibility rests with those who are best placed to exercise them: BAE SYSTEMS for support and Defence for operations.

"The partnering arrangement has also been recognised in the application of Earned Value Management under the LIF Project. The joint use by BAE SYSTEMS and the Commonwealth of Earned Value techniques has allowed the Commonwealth an unprecedented visibility into BAE SYSTEMS.

"The result is that both the DMO and BAE SYSTEMS have managed the project with a common goal and to agreed parameters," Air Vice-Marshal Conroy said.

Further information Richard Hogan Ph 0419 621753 or 02-62652913

Photos and Vision Vision has been supplied to the Networks in the Canberra Press Gallery. Photos are available from Defence Digital Media Section on 02-62655277.

Issued by Public Affairs and Corporate Communication, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT, 2600 Media releases are available by email if you register at the Media Centre at www.defence.gov.au


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