The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, advanced jet trainer aircraft. It first flew in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk. The Hawk is used by the Royal Air Force, and other air forces, as either a trainer or a low-cost combat aircraft. The Hawk is still in production with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 customers around the world.
In 1964 the Royal Air Force specified a requirement (Air Staff Target (AST) 362) for a new fast jet trainer to replace the Folland Gnat. The SEPECAT Jaguar was originally intended for this role, but it was soon realised that it would be too complex an aircraft for fast jet training, and only a small number of two-seat versions were purchased. Accordingly, in 1968, Hawker Siddeley Aviation (HSA) began studies for a simpler aircraft, initially as special project (SP) 117. The design team was led by Ralph Hooper. This project was funded by the company as a private venture, in anticipation of possible RAF interest. The design was conceived of as having tandem seating and a combat capability in addition to training, as it was felt the latter would improve export sales potential. Through 1969 the project was first renamed P.1182, then HS.1182. By the end of the year HSA had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Defence based on the design concept, and in early 1970 the RAF issued Air Staff Target (AST) 397 which formalised the requirement for new trainers of this type. The RAF selected the HS.1182 for their requirement on 1 October 1971 and the principal contract, for 175 aircraft, was signed in March 1972.
Renamed "Hawk" following an employee naming competition (the name "Tercel", a male hawk, was the actual winning name, but the RAF preferred the more common and simpler name), the aircraft first flew on 21 August 1974.
At the time, its main competitor was the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet; both types were intended to be exported and John W. R. Taylor commented on the situation: "What Europe must avoid is the kind of wasteful competition that has the Hawker Siddeley Hawk and Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet battling against each other in the world market."
In 1977 Hawker Siddeley merged with other British aircraft companies to form the nationalised British Aerospace (BAe), which subsequently became BAE Systems upon merger with Marconi Electronic Systems in 1999.
The Hawk T1A is a modified Hawk T1, which was intended to replace the Hawker Hunter in the RAF's Tactical Weapons Units. A total of 89 aircraft were converted to carry two underwing AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and a centreline gun pod. During the 1980s, the RAF began using TWU Hawks in the Mixed Fighter Force (MFF) concept; the intention was to attach three of four Hawks to a Phantom or Tornado interceptor, which would guide them using its powerful radar onto enemy targets.
This is also the variant used by the RAF's Red Arrows display team; the underbody gun pod is repalced by a similarly shaped fairing used used to carry oil for the display smoke system.
The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Scampton, but due to move to RAF Waddington in 2011. The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands.
The Red Arrows badge shows the aircraft in their trademark diamond nine formation, with the motto Éclat, a French word meaning "brilliance" or "excellence".Initially, they were equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team. This aircraft was chosen because it was less expensive to operate than front-line fighters. In their first season, they flew at 65 shows across Europe. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation. In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have performed over 4,000 displays worldwide in 53 countries.