BAE Systems Australia and Defence Science and Technology (DST) carried out major structural tests on Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hawk Mk127 lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT) under which the platform completed the equivalent of 50,000 ‘flying’ hours.
“The Hawk LIF has successfully completed a world-first test program demonstrating the airframe is fit to fly for decades. The aircraft achieved an equivalent of 50,000 flying hours, more than 10 times the current flying hours on most of the Australian fleet,” the company tweeted.
"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," Mike Swales, Head of International Markets, BAE Systems, said.
A team from BAE Systems and the Australia Defence Department have recently completed a major structural testing programme on a specially adapted Hawk Mark 127 to put it through five-times this clearance.
Hawk aircraft are used to prepare pilots for life in a fast jet cockpit. The Mark 127 Hawk operated by the Royal Australian Air Force has a safety clearance to fly 10,000 hours, the company said in a release August 10.
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.
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.
The testing programme began in February 2006 with the intention of demonstrating the structural integrity of a Mark 127 airframe to five times its intended life. The testing was completed on June 5 2020.
It involved a team of BAE Systems engineers in Brough, United Kingdom working alongside the DSTO team in Melbourne, Australia, to ensure the successful completion of the programme.
The airframe will now be dismantled with components undergoing a further two-year period of detailed inspections.
The first Hawk aircraft entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1976 and is currently in service with air forces from Canada and the United States to India and Australia.
There is production work underway on nine further Hawk aircraft for the Qatar Emiri Air Force which are scheduled to enter service in 2021, preparing its pilots for fast jet aircraft including Typhoon.