Engineers from Australia and the UK have successfully completed a rigorous structural testing programme that has seen a Hawk airframe achieve the equivalent of 50,000 flying hours, say BAE Systems.

The Mk127 Hawk operated by the Royal Australian Air Force has a safety clearance to fly 10,000 hours and is the most advanced standard of the aircraft. The firm also say that air forces in the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Oman operate similar standards of aircraft in their Hawk fleets with the Qatar Emiri Air Force due to become the latest to operate this most advanced standard of aircraft.

A team from BAE Systems and the Australian Defence Department have recently completed a major structural testing programme on a specially adapted Hawk Mk127 to put it through five-times this clearance.

“The airframe has been subjected to and tested on the range of loads it would experience in actual flight, with durability tests carried out at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation in Melbourne to simulate real life fleet usage based on projected operational requirements.”

Mike Swales, Head of International Markets, BAE Systems, said:

“This a major milestone for the Hawk programme which proves there is many years more life left in the 650 aircraft we have training pilots across the globe every day. To achieve 50,000 flying hours in structural testing is five times the current clearance of the most modern Hawk in air forces across the world and more than ten times the current flying hours on most of the Australian fleet. Hawk has been the world’s flying classroom, preparing more than 20,000 pilots for life in a frontline fast jet, for decades and this is proof that it has many years more safe, effective flying ahead of it with customers set to operate the aircraft well into the 2040’s.”

The testing programme began in February 2006 with the intention of demonstrating the structural integrity of a Mk127 airframe to five times its intended life. The testing was completed on the 5th of June 2020.

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But note the 3rd last paragraph in the this Australian website:


They would make a great Aggressor jet for ‘red air’ adversarial training when they are finished with the RAAF.

Oscar Zulu

‘fly for decades’ It could but it won’t. Planned retirement of Hawk is 2026 just six years away which in military procurement terms means there is a degree of urgency in finding a LIFT replacement. Coupled with the Hawk’s wing fatigue and increasing engine reliability issues causing fleet wide groundings it’s causing interruptions to fast jet training programs. Not helpful when air force is gearing up to qualify pilots for the F35 program. The news item is something of a rearguard PR exercise by BAE. Boeing has already made a formal response to the RAAF’s RFI and may be the… Read more »


Spare us the waffle, it has been superceded by rivals and BAE has been caught napping.

George Royce

I agree. Even the trainers should be supersonic these days.


Again, BAe sitting on their hands ringing out the last drop of profit from an elderly airframe. Where is BAe’s replacement? There is definitely a market for a new lead in fighter trainer that can smooth the transition from simulator to the real thing, i.e. F35 and perhaps Tempest.


Too late, Italians M346, Koreans T 50 and Boeing/Saab T-7 are already on it.

Paul T

Agree – The Fast Jet Trainer Market is awash with fresh Designs now ,that Ship sailed too long ago.


That’s the problem, when the M346 was being designed 10 years ago. The Hawk was going through the wing upgrade program. Granted this has given the aircraft a few extra years. But it was just an evolution not a blank canvas design like the M346, so a wasted opportunity. The Hawk is a fabulous aircraft and still one of the best dogfighters. In its analogue version, it had a fairly benign handling characteristic that was awesome for “noob” pilots. However, the whole package was designed before unstable platforms became the norm. You can modify traditional platforms to do the same,… Read more »


Yes, Hawk lost to M346 in Singapore competition.

Note that you don”t need an unstable aircraft to be maneuverable:

see the lomcovack maneuver by the now old MB 339


Yes, a normal stable platform will still generate remarkable acrobatics. However, when it comes to dogfighting it will lose, because an unstable platform is more responsive.

Ian Skinner

but where is BAE’s replacement? they seem content just to use up old designs.

john melling

The Australians, who my Dad helped with the LIFT program in the ’90s took a more active and positive direction I remember meeting them as a young lad. We’ve had several variants built and I never understood why the RAF didn’t use them A jet that we sell but our own RAF just use for training and in the “aggressor” role Yet its capability as LIF and Ground Attack never used in the RAF I think we should replace all our Hawks with the latest ones Therefore helping with jobs and boosting skills I do hope we don’t end up… Read more »


UK training Hawks are now T2s which are very much newer with digital cockpits. 100 SQN, the Red Arrows and possibly the 7** NAS are the only T1 users. T2s will be around for another 30 years so I think what you mean is replace the last of the T1s with newly built Hawks….perhaps that could happen but with a big pool of T1s in storage and plenty of airframe hours, I can’t see that happening soon. Bigger spending priorities

Gavin Gordon

Reminds you of British management attitudes duting the swan song of our old car industry

John Clark

It certainly does….

Unfortunately BAE Systems is long out of the Lift game. The Hawk has pretty much reached the end of the road in development terms.

A joint project with the Italians in the early 2000’s could have produced interesting results, but there it is…

There’s a very slim chance of a follow on UK Hawk procurement, perhaps….


There is an advanced hawk program being carried out by India. So it is entirely possible that we will be buying more hawks in the future but they will not be from this country…


I used to go to the BL show room every year in the early 70’s waiting for the MGB replacement. The Gap between 1963 and the MGF in 1995 was a long old wait. Same sad story, lack of foresight and investment in British industry, now legendary. Lack of belief in their customers, who would always buy British if they could, wouldn’t they?

Gavin Gordon

Back then, I pinned the blame on Unions, and there remains abundant reason to implicate them to this day. But what opened your eyes initially were the Japanese, who introduced Management (proper noun) and employed many if not most of the erstwhile workforce to create a car industry as efficient as any. Nowadays, my personal dagger remains drawn for Ford, which for a century meant the UK on this side of the pond, as it’s principal market for private, fleet and commercial vehicles. Still they top the sales listings, with their advertising continuing to emphasize their Britishness – yet where… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

P..S. the replacement MG (proper) still thrives, of course. Mazda MX5


Sadly I have to agree with other posts. BAe have had a very successful airframe but failed to reinvest profits into RnD for a new airframe, now sadly too late for UK. Boeing invested heavily in the T7 and its paying off. Will probably capture most of the western trainer market in the coming decades.


I would like to see us purchase a fleet of Gripens to replace the Hawk, it also allows for more combat capability and whilst more expensive to buy is probably great value overall.

with a lot of the Gripens parts being Birtish and the Swedes willing to offset I am sure this could be built in Britain.

Paul T

Pacman – Yes the Gripen could add something to the RAF im sure,perhaps they could revive the ‘Through Deck Cruiser ‘ mentality and get some past the Treasury as Trainers ?.


would you replace 5 year old T2s with Gripen?…..seems a waste


Hi Julian,

not at all, like everything I say and think it is over a lifecycle (so probably on a rolling schedule over the next 20 years). In truth I am not convinced we need so many trainers, I would buy fewer, work them harder and change more often to avoid upgrade costs and a large fleet, but maybe I am wrong. For training this is possibly the more efficient way to do this as technology is moving quickly.


I still wonder if the UK went the wrong way when it stayed with the Hawk program. Possibly it would have been better to develop the SEPECAT Jaguar as the jet trainer, as it could have been used also in the ground attack and low threat enviroments.
As for the suggestion of the SAAB Gripen, I like the idea, we have already two training programs per year out in Linkoping, Sweden on Gripen, I think the Empire Flying School also has a few. However they are not cheap, depending on the fit they can cost anything upto £50 million.


We should Just invest in aeralis


Italy especially and other countries take a punt on defence in order to generate export orders. Aeralis could be our version of this. We need to o invest in defence to help industry long term.