Mar 27, 2016
BAE progresses pre-delivery trials of Saudi Hawks
A photograph taken at BAE Systems' Warton facility in the north of England on 23 March shows the aircraft (serial ZB101 while in the UK) performing the final phases of flights trials in the standard colours and markings of the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), having previously only been seen in factory primer. The second aircraft, 2102 (ZB102), also flew.
The aircraft is the first of an initial batch of 22 Hawk AJTs that the RSAF ordered in 2012 to replace the Hawk Mk 65 and Mk 65A platforms currently in service. An order for a further 22 aircraft was first reported in February after it appeared in BAE Systems' preliminary annual report for 2015.
The Hawk AJTs are being acquired because their 'glass' cockpits more closely resemble those of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing F-15SA Eagles onto which the RSAF's student pilots will transition. Its acquisition is part of a wider revamp of the service's pilot training capabilities, which includes 55 new Pilatus PC-21s and 25 Cirrus SR22 primary training aircraft.