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Tail Gunner: 98 Raids in World War II
by
Chan Chandler


 

The following article appeared in the 2010 edition of The Royal Air Force Yearbook, a highly recommended read for all those interested in the RAF.

Many thanks to the editor of the Yearbook (Peter March) for permission to use this piece.

Click here to visit the RAF Benevolent Fund web site.

The article was written by Bob Archer.

RAF Yearbook
Next Generation Hawk
A new era began at RAF Valley on 8 April 2009, when BAE Systems delivered Hawk T2 ZK014 from Warton as the first aircraft for No.19 (Reserve) Squadron. Although similar in appearance to the Hawk T1, which it will partially replace, that is where the similarities end. The second generation T2, also known as the Hawk Mk128 and the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT), is radically different from its predecessor.

The Secretary of State for Defence announced the selection of the BAE Systems Hawk 128 to fulfil the requirement for a new Advanced Jet Trainer in 2003, and the MoD awarded BAE Systems a design and development contract in late 2004. In October 2006, a production contract was issued for 28 T2 aircraft.

Fast jet training is one element of the new and far reaching United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) Holistic Programme. (The Greek philosopher Aristotle summarised that holism is 'where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts'). In essence, the new UKMFTS approach will be more effective than the present system, whereby each Service performs its own training programme - often with duplication. UKMFTS encompasses 23 flying trades, which will streamline training by eliminating unnecessary replication across the Services by employing a host of joint activities.

The Hawk T1 has faithfully served No 4 FTS since the first pair was delivered on 4 November 1976. Training began in July 1977, with the School having subsequently graduated thousands of fast jet pilots. The training syllabus has evolved from a system designed to teach pilots the basics of jet aircraft flying, and subsequent transition to their selected fighter aircraft type with the appropriate Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). However, it is largely similar to the days when pilots were trained for such aircraft types as the Phantom, Jaguar and Buccaneer- and other types which have long been consigned to history by the RAF.

Enter the new Hawk

All that is about to change. The new Hawk programme is being established to transition the student from basic flying training to a position where they will have been seamlessly streamlined to his or her operational aircraft squadron. Flight Commander Sqn Ldr Dan Beard is leading the team that is assisting Ascent Flight Training (formed as a joint venture with Lockheed Martin and the VT Group) in developing the fast jet training syllabus and has completed, along with five other Qualified Flying Instructors (OFIs), a flying conversion exercise at Warton. They are now undertaking shakedown flying and also helping to establish the programme which will enable students to develop the skills required to fly the latest generation of combat aircraft in a state-of-the-art training environment. Emphasis is being placed on designing a syllabus to take into account the vastly expanded function which the new aircraft can perform, compared to its predecessor.
The New Hawk T2's performance capabilities are being explored by six pilots from RAF Valley, as part of the acceptance process for the new aircraft.
(Peter Foster)

Innovation

Currently, the new T2s are being flown by No 19 Squadron, with operations conducted alongside the T1 from the existing infrastructure. This will change later in 2010, when a new complex to accommodate all the activities associated with the new aircraft will be completed. Furthermore, the T2 will feature a new era of aircraft support. Following on from the success of the Hawk Integrated Operational Support (IOS) contract which BAE Systems won for the Hawk T1 programme, a new contract has been awarded for the T2. The IOS contract for the T1 provides a 'Dispatch Reliability' service which has constantly exceeded 95% aircraft launch criteria.

Under the T2 contract, BAE Systems stands behind its product's ability to deliver the task, from crew in to shut down on completion of the sortie, such that it offers a successful sortie completion rate i.e. 'Duty Carried Out' of 95%. The radically new concept, which has just begun, includes forward and depth maintenance, as well as fleet and supply chain management. BAE Systems' General Manager at RAF Valley, Dave Bevan, and his experienced team, are justifiably thrilled with the successes to date, and are confident that the Hawk IOS contract will be extended past its present expiry date of 2011. While BAE Systems is the overall contractor, the day-to-day aircraft maintenance has been sub-contracted to the defence division of the Babcock International Group.

This is only one side of the radical programme that is being introduced at Valley. Pilot training is an extremely complex undertaking, involving a syllabus streamlined to ensure only those with the highest aptitude graduate as fast jet pilots ready to transition to the latest hardware currently in service with the RAF, Flying training is an expensive undertaking, especially flight operations - therefore every hour spent in a ground· based 'realistic' training environment can take place at a fraction of the cost of actually flying an aircraft.

A contract issued to Ascent Flight Training in June 2008 will provide a Ground Based Training Equipment system encompassing the full range of static training aids for the T2. This includes all computer-based training equipment as well as the classrooms. A new concept, known as a cockpit Flying Training Device (FTD) has been introduced with a further six planned. Each FTD incorporates a touch-screen display representing the forward instrument panel, allowing for the operation of the visually simulated instruments including MDFs. Surrounding this are three larger-sized, high-resolution screens depicting local terrain, offering a degree of realism. The pilot sits in a medium fidelity representation of the T2 cockpit, which includes an actual Hawk HOTAS set and replicated instrumentation, allowing operation of the FTD as per the aircraft. This is supported by an Instructors Operating Station that allows for lesson scenarios to be run and student performance to be monitored.

In addition Ascent will provide two Full Mission Simulators (FMS), a host of desktop laptops, as well as mission brief! debrief facilities. The two simulators can be linked to each other enabling two students to perform joint FMS missions. This is similar for the FTDs, allowing up to six FTDs to take part in a joint training event. The entire training complex, as well as the BAE Systems contractor maintenance facility and No 19 Squadron's headquarters, will be centralised in a purpose-built building due to open before the end of 2010.

 Instructor training will begin towards the end of 2010, with the first due to complete their courses early in 2011, and the first student pilots are planned to begin flying the new Hawk in December 2011. The single most important factor will be to teach students to utilise the array of information presented to them. Flying the T2 will become second nature, thus enabling the student to concentrate on the myriad of information being presented on the MFDs and the HUD.
Hawk T2 hangar at Valley, part of a large modernisation programme, with newly delivered ZK025.
(Bob Archer)

Visually Different

Visually the Hawk T2 differs significantly from the earlier T1, as it is larger than its predecessor. The earlier Hawk has a length of 11.96 metres, and a wingspan of 9.39 metres. The new Hawk is 12.43 metres long, due primarily to the elongated nose which houses the additional sensors and avionics. The wingspan is 9.94 metres, as it features a revised wing design incorporating a combat flap setting. The aircraft is powered by an uprated Rolls-Royce/Turboméca Adour Mk 951 engine producing 6,500 lbs of thrust- some 500lbs more than that of the T1. The T2 has a higher maximum take—off weight than the T1 and, to enable a slight increase in range, the new Hawk is fitted with a fuel tank attached to the centreline hardpoint. The wingtips feature an AIM·9 Sidewinder rail, which is detachable, but which is in place for most sorties. The leading edge of the tail has a radar warning receiver cover fitted, although at the moment the equipment is not installed.

Internally the new Hawk has a very impressive array of instrumentation - most designed to provide information to the pilot, but with other systems specifically added to aid maintenance personnel. These include a health and usage monitoring system, which will determine the fatigue consumption of the airframe throughout its lifetime. In recent years, most fighter aircraft have been designed with a repair and maintenance system that enables many components to be removed and replaced. The Hawk T2 has this system, which will considerably reduce the time taken to carry out simplified repairs.
The front cockpit of the T2 showing the three full-colour multi-function displays.
(Bob Archer)

Radical Future

While the small team headed by Sqn Ldr Beard are progressing towards operational implementation, the capabilities of the new Hawk could go far beyond that of training student fast jet pilots. Although there are no current plans in place, Group Captain Bruce Hedley, station commanding officer at Valley, has evaluated the T2 dynamics installed in its various computer systems as being able to replicate fourth and fifth generation fast jet types.

With this capability embedded, the T2 will be able to train existing pilots from these types in a wide variety of scenarios, but at a fraction of the cost of performing such missions in the actual aircraft. To enable the programme to be implemented, 19 Squadron will need to liaise closely with the existing fighter squadrons to determine the scenarios to be enacted. The fighter 0CUs could download their requirements to No 19 Squadron, who will prepare the syllabus accordingly. This will include the superimposing of identical systems, flight parameters, weapons, aerial engagements, and even kill possibilities.

To accomplish this fundamental shift in training, groups of aircrew from operational squadrons and 0CUs could deploy to Valley to participate in realistic sorties. The Hawk T2 has modern safety systems which allow the more challenging operational low flying and night conversion flights to be conducted at reduced risk. Additionally, an instructor from Valley could be the aircraft captain and act as both a safety pilot and focus for training, removing the requirement for a lengthy conversion to type and allowing periods of focussed training.

The replication of electronic warfare systems, a fifth generation air-to-air radar, and modern weaponry, combined with revolutionary ground- based training systems, ensure that downloaded frontline training to the Hawk T2 at Valley is a realistic aim. Personnel at RAF Valley are extremely upbeat about the future. Three quarters of the 28 aircraft had been delivered to the RAF by the end of 2009. Half will have continued their journey to RAF Shawbury for temporary housing until the purpose built facilities at Valley have been completed. All 28 are expected to be at Valley by mid-2011.

The Hawk T1 has served the training community for some 34 years and these aircraft will continue to serve with No 208 Squadron at Valley teaching students the basics of fast jet operations, before they transition to No 19 Squadron for advanced training. Both squadrons are components of No 4 FTS, which celebrates its 50th anniversary at Valley this year, having been formed on 15 August 1960 at Valley, when No 7 FTS was renumbered. The investment in new equipment and infrastructure at Valley has ensured that the School, and its component squadrons, will continue their important task for many years to come.
Sqn Ldr Dan Bead, the Flight Commander for the Hawk T2 conversion programme, demonstrating the Flying Training Device. Six of these systems are planned for Valley.
(Bob Archer)

Operational Capability

The Hawk T2s have been delivered with an initial software capability known as Operational Capability Zero (OCD), which enables the aircraft to perform conventional sorties, which are ideally suited to the introductory phase of the programme. Currently undergoing development, and due for implementation within the next 12 months, is the far more comprehensive Operational Capability Two (OCZ). The new software will transform the T2 from a conventional pilot trainer into a multi—capability training system. The OCZ programme is currently being evaluated at Warton, but will be installed in operational aircraft by 2011. The state of—the--art cockpit features three full-colour multi function displays (MFDs), and an integrated inertial navigation system linked to a global positioning system. Two mission computers installed are compatible with the MIL-STD-1553 databus. Additionally the cockpit has Hands On Throttle- and-Stick (HOTaS), as well as a Head-Up Display (HUD). The new software, combined with these systems, will enable the replication of capabilities and threats. These include airborne radar, medium range air—to—air missiles, semi—active radar guided missiles, and infrared missiles. An auto pilot, Ground Proximity Warning System, Traffic Collision Avoidance System, Data link, Mission Data Loading and Recording System, and a Digital Moving Map display complete the array of avionics installed. Collectively the sophisticated airframe design, coupled with the advanced avionics, has produced arguably one of the most superior jet training aircraft currently available. Once the full range of capabilities become operational, the student pilot will receive training that will encompass a full air-to-air environment. This will allow them to perform advanced tactics that would have been unheard of in the T1.
 
Without doubt the most fundamental improvement is the capability of the T2's avionics to replicate the cockpit environment of front-line aircraft such as the Typhoon, Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4, and their associated weapons systems. This potential will enhance the skills required to transition to the front-line, offering students a seamless training capability to the aircraft that they will fly operationally.