The Hawk LIF is a variant of the highly successful Hawk family and has been specifically designed to support the needs of the Australian Defence Force and deliver advanced flying and weapon systems training.
So what does it take to ensure Australian pilots of the future are among the most capable in the world? We sat down with Nick, Project Manager and a RAAF veteran to find out.
“You have to consider all of the different aspects that go into training a fast jet pilot, not just the aircraft itself.
“You have to consider the way that students learn, how we use simulators and the quality of the mission pre- and post-mission briefing systems. We look at how virtual reality and augmented reality technology can be used to provide a more effective learning environment and how the students can be of the highest quality and ready for their next stage by the time they leave our part of the program.”
Forward thinking never stops. Nick says that the team are looking for ways that we as industry leaders can bring new tools and technologies to enhance the capability:
“In looking forward to the next 10 years of Hawk, we have mapped out a capability pathway asking what are the trends and capability needs that we can foresee and meet over those years to keep the system at the cutting edge and relevant for training aircrew for F-35 as Air Force needs evolve.”
The Lead-In Fighter program has always been at the cutting edge with BAE Systems maintaining and increasing the investment in local capability and Australian industry.
“We have continued to keep the system at pace, both in terms of capability and in other aspects, such as the contracting model, the enterprise behaviours and a one-team approach. All of those have been among the best examples across defence.”
In training the 5th Generation Air Force, sensor technology and integration becomes more prominent and drives demand for more innovative and technology-based solutions that can truly enhance situational awareness and connectedness across ADF platforms.
“What’s particularly exciting for us is the opportunity to bring enhanced software systems and technologies like virtual and augmented reality to create more complex learning environments both on and off the aircraft."
“Next generation fighters on the frontline bring a new wave of technology, this means different technologies and skill sets that we need to respond to. That’s where we see a lot more development in engineering and technology jobs and a great opportunity for our local industry communities to get involved,” said Nick.
It’s no longer surprising that roles like software engineers, big data specialists and aerospace systems engineers are essential to BAE Systems’ training solution and the future of fast jet training.
“It’s an extremely exciting time for the Hawk” says Nick.
“Following the recent mid-life upgrade, the capability is really starting to benefit and see what the platform is capable of."
More than 650 Hawk aircraft are flown around the world, training fast jet aircrew in the UK, Canada, US, Saudi Arabia, India, Oman and South Africa to name a few.
Nick says global collaboration with these operators and industry participants brings greater opportunities for Australia:
“Both the timing and the nature of the work with the UK team in particular presents us an opportunity to bring together our strong local capability to get the upgrades and our capability pathway executed more cost effectively and efficiently.”
Forming around 12 months of the 4-year training program required for fast jet air crew, the LIF Training System is an integral component for Australia’s future pilots.
“It’s easy to take for granted what you do; but when you step back and remember the significance of what we are part of and how important the role is to keep fast jet air crew flying in the seats of our 5th Generation frontline fighters…it’s really humbling.”
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