Viewed as the role model for through-life support contracting, the Hawk Lead-In Fighter project was established by BAE Systems Australia to provide and support an outstanding, state-of-the-art fast jet training capability for the Royal Australian Air Force.

The Hawk Lead-In Fighter is the world’s most successful advanced military jet trainer aircraft built on more than 35 years of fast jet training experience. More than 1,000 aircraft have operated across 18 countries, preparing more than 20,000 pilots for life in a fast-jet cockpit.  

The Hawk Mark 127 Lead-In Fighter is a tandem, two-seater jet aircraft. Australia currently has 33 aircraft that have all been enhanced to ensure they remain cutting edge and future ready. 

Using advanced airborne simulation technology, the Hawk is a ‘flying classroom.’ It prepares student pilots to master the controls of combat aircraft and trains the RAAF’s fast jet aircrew for operational conversion to the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Hawk Lead-In Fighter Training System graduates regularly achieve 100% pass rates in their fighter operational conversion courses.

The Hawk Lead-In Fighter program is also supported by a supply chain of more than 180 Australian businesses. This drives a combined direct and indirect workforce of more than 1000 people. 

In 2022, BAE Systems Australia welcomed a $1.5 billion Hawk Lead-In Fighter contract extension that will continue to train Australia’s frontline fighter pilots through to 2031. 

The new contract includes the continuation of the existing in-service support, providing maintenance, engineering and supply chain services to the Royal Australian Air Force and will be the foundation for progressive upgrades of mission systems.
Andrew Chapman, Director - Aircraft Sustainment & Training
Hawk Lead-In Fighter 

The BAE Systems Economic Contribution of the Hawk and F-35 Support Programs

This study by BIS Oxford Economics examines the economic contribution of BAE Systems’ support programs for two of Australia’s key aviation assets: the Hawk Lead-In Fighter and the F-35 fighter jet.

BAE Systems’ core capabilities

As the current platform steward, BAE Systems is committed to delivering value for money on a fully flexible, scalable and upgradable platform. This includes a spiral capability development upgrade process to ensure the platform and training systems continue to meet Australia’s current and future fast-jet training requirements.
This will ensure that the Hawk Lead-In Fighter remains an outstanding and cost effective training solution throughout its whole-of-life. Results from recently completed Full Scale Fatigue testing showed life remaining in the Hawk airframe could allow the aircraft to continue operations well into the late 2040s. The intent of this significant testing program, as part of Defence Standards, was to demonstrate the structural integrity of the airframe to five times its intended life.
Marking the 100,000 hour milestone for the Hawk fleet.

What we do


Operational focus

Since the contract commenced, BAE Systems Australia has provided long-term capability solutions to the RAAF to deliver the best outcome for the warfighter.
The Australian fleet has achieved around 122,000 hours of pilot training to date at RAAF Pearce in WA and RAAF Williamtown in NSW, where the aircraft are based. Under a performance-based contract, BAE Systems Australia ensures the aircraft are delivered in line with customer requirements and expectations.

Future technologies

The Hawk Lead-In Fighter and its through-life support program has been designed with future technologies to reflect the evolving training requirements of frontline combat aircraft. This will ensure that the Hawk Lead-In Fighter remains a cost-effective training solution throughout its entire life.
Technology training