The Hawk 127 lead-in fighter prepares qualified Air Force pilots for operational conversion to F/A-18A and F/A-18B Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets.
The Hawk is operated by Number 76 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, and Number 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce, near Perth.
Pilots complete a 14 week Introductory Fighter Course at RAAF Base Pearce with the Hawk, which includes general flying, instrument flying, formation flying, night flying and navigation.
Graduates then progress to a 20 week course at RAAF Base Williamtown for instruction in air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons training with the Hawk. Only then, can pilots progress to operational conversation to F/A-18A/B Hornet or F/A-18F Super Hornet.
The Hawk has been designed with through-life support programs to allow for system upgrades to reflect evolving training requirements. Students attend major exercises such as Exercise Pitch Black in the Northern Territory as part of their training.
It is a low-wing, all-metal aircraft, fitted with an integrated navigation and attack system, and powered by a single Adour Mk 871 turbofan engine. The avionics system is integrated via a 1553 multiplex database. The principal components are two display and mission computers (DMCs), which coordinate, process and command the display of information from the communications, navigation and attack sub-systems. Each cockpit has hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls.
The Head-Up Display (HUD) in the front cockpit and Multi-Function Displays (MFD) in each cockpit present a range of flight information, ranging from aircraft performance and attitude through to equipment status reports. Mission-specific data can be pre-programmed by the pilot and downloaded into the system. Equipment performance, aircraft fatigue and engine life data is monitored and recorded by a Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS).
The Hawk 127 armament system provides for the carriage, aiming and release or firing of both practice weapons and conventional and laser-guided bombs, AIM-9M “Sidewinder” missiles and a 30mm cannon. The stores are carried on two wingtip missile stations or pylon-mounted on four underwing and one centreline hardpoints.
The Hawk has been designed with through-life support programs to allow for system upgrades to reflect evolving training requirements.