The quartet is the first group to develop their skills on the new-look Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT), which uses state of the art advanced avionics suite and sensor simulation software to help make the step up between trainer aircraft and Typhoon easier.
Converting training into flying
The Hawk – dubbed the T2 by the RAF – has a digital glass cockpit designed to closely resemble those of fast jets and it therefore cuts the time to convert training into flying fighter aircraft such as Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II.
Learning to fly
Fight Lieutenant, Victoria ‘Tori’ Lyle, one of the four graduates said: "The last year has been both a challenging and rewarding one.
“Learning to fly the new Hawk T2 has been fantastic, presenting us with opportunities to develop skills that are more in line with the front line aircraft we will be going to fly after Valley.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of the first course, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at RAF Valley. Whilst it is always difficult to simulate all aspects of airborne flying in the simulator, the sophistication of the ground based training facilities has allowed us to develop our ‘kit manipulation’ to a high degree, having said that, nothing can quite beat the feeling of flying low level through the Welsh hills.”
In July the graduates will continue their frontline operational conversion unit training at RAF Coningsby on the Typhoon.
To mark their achievement a small ceremony was held at RAF Valley attended by Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton, the Chief of Air Staff, who said: "The pilots who graduated can be proud of what they have achieved as the pioneers of this new advanced training system, the Hawk T2, and can look forward with confidence that, following their conversion to operational aircraft, they will very soon take on their roles on Royal Air Force frontline squadrons.
"Having completed the course on the new Hawk they are some of the best trained pilots to graduate from UK fast jet training. RAF Valley delivers the most advanced fast jet training programme in the world. At the core of it, the Hawk's advanced cockpit closely resembles that of our current and future combat aircraft, which will reduce the time required to convert to flying an operational aircraft, be that Typhoon, Tornado or the Lightning II.
"The live flying at RAF Valley, on the Hawk T2, is supported by an increasing range of synthetic training on the ground. This makes every flying hour more productive and makes this entire programme even more cost effective for the United Kingdom."
Preparing for the front line
The ‘synthetic’ classroom based training using simulators is ahead of its time, preparing the fast jet pilot for the frontline and reducing the time it takes to become familiar with flying a combat aircraft once they move to their operational conversion units.
About the course
The course runs for approximately 11 months, with around 120 hours of live flying. There is no final examination. The last flight on the course involves the student evading airborne and surface-to-air threats at medium and low level. The student has to take part in a simulated Paveway IV bomb attack against a designated target whilst trying to evade a low level airborne threat and lead their wingman home in a simulated emergency.