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Tue, Mar 29, 2011

South African Hawk Trainer Set For Nav And Weapons Upgrade

BAE Systems Changes Will Let Trainer More Closely Resemble A Front-Line Fighter

The South African Air Force's Hawk jet trainer fleet is about to receive a navigation and weapons system upgrade from BAE Systems, which has completed the design work and is now ready to install the new system in the aircraft.

The software and hardware upgrade, jointly developed with long term South African partner Advanced Technologies and Engineering, enables the Hawk Mk120 to share simulated radar data across multiple platforms. For example the South African Hawk Mk120 can see the same data as the South African Air Force Gripen and South African Navy Corvette frigate whilst on a training sortie.

The upgrade, known as Operational Capability 4, includes the introduction of software to simulate the use of infra-red and radar guided missiles. The upgrade also involves the replacement of the existing analogue video recording with a digital recording capability. This means greater flexibility in analysing the data post sortie, vastly improving the quality of the debrief process for both the aircrew and ground crew.

"Integrating these upgrades onto the South African Air Force's Hawks will significantly enhance the training capability of the aircraft, ensuring the student pilots learn in a more realistic environment, significantly reducing the cost of training on expensive platforms," said Mike Swales, International Training Director for BAE Systems. "Additionally they are also better prepared for the challenge of flying front-line aircraft"

The capability upgrade has commenced on eight aircraft based at Makhado Air Force Base, Limpopo Province, South Africa with the remainder of the Hawk Mk120 fleet due to be upgraded before the end of the year.

BAE Systems delivered 24 Hawk Mk120 Lead In Fighter Trainers to South Africa where they are operated by the South African Air Force's 85 Combat Flying School at Air Force Base Makhado. South Africa's Hawks are used for training Gripen pilots and weapons officers. The Hawk aircraft have been configured so that their cockpits and systems closely resemble those on the Gripen advanced fighter. The aircraft is in operation with 18 countries.



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