The Hawk entered RAF service in April 1976, replacing the Folland Gnat and Hawker Hunter for advanced training and weapons training. The Hawk T1 was the original version used by the RAF, deliveries commencing in November 1976. The most famous users of the Hawk are the Red Arrows aerobatic team, who adopted the plane in 1979.
From 1983 to 1986, some Hawks were equipped as short-range interceptor aircraft. 88 T1s were modified to carry two AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (AAMs) in addition to a 30 mm ADEN cannon gun pod; these aircraft were redesignated as Hawk T1A. In a wartime scenario, they would have worked in collaboration with the RAF's Tornado F3 interceptors, which would use their Foxhunter search radars and more sophisticated navigation systems to vector the Hawks against enemy targets.
The Hawk subsequently replaced the English Electric Canberra for target towing duties. The Royal Navy acquired a dozen Hawk T1/1As from the RAF; these are typically operated in a support role, often to conduct simulated combat training onboard ships.
During the 1990s and 2000s, 80 Hawk T1/1A aircraft were upgraded under the Fuselage Replacement Programme (FRP) to extend their operational lifespan; sections of the centre and rear fuselage sections were entirely replaced. In 2009, the RAF began receiving the first Hawk T2, in the long term, T2 aircraft will replace the ageing T1s. Training operations on the Hawk T2 began in April 2012.
In August 2011, a Red Arrows pilot was killed when his Hawk T1 crashed following a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival, the inquest found "G-force impairment" may have caused the pilot to lose control; the Hawk T1 fleet was grounded as a precautionary measure and returned to flight status a few days later. Three months later in November 2011, the Red Arrows suffered another pilot fatality when the Martin-Baker Mk.10 ejection seat fitted to the Hawk T1 activated while the aircraft was stationary; the veteran combat pilot died on ground impact when the ejector seat parachute also failed to deploy. This resulted in the UK Ministry of Defence implementing a ban on non-essential flying in aircraft fitted with ejector seats similar to those fitted in the Hawk T1 after the death. The ban was lifted for Tornado attack jets but remained on Hawk T1, Hawk T2 and Tucano flights while the RAF reviewed evidence on those aircraft.
In January 1978, Britain and Finland announced a deal to in which the Finnish Air Force was to receive 50 Hawk Mk. 51s in 1980; these aircraft were built in Finland under licence by Valtion lentokonetehdas. The Finnish Air Force was limited to 60 first-line fighter aircraft by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947; by acquiring Hawks, which counted as trainers rather than fighters, capacity could be increased while continuing treaty compliance. These conditions were nullified at the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Seven additional Mk. 51As were delivered in 1993–94 to make up for losses. In June 2007, Finland arranged to purchase 18 used Hawk Mk. 66s from the Swiss Air Force for 41 million euros; they were delivered in 2009–2010. Finnish Hawks have reportedly been armed with Russian Molniya R-60/AA-8 air-to-air missiles. The Finnish Air Force aerobatics team, the Midnight Hawks, also uses the aircraft.
Due to rising levels of metal fatigue, 41 out of 67 in Finland's total Hawk fleet will be taken out of service between 2012–2016; the remaining aircraft are younger and thus are expected to be flying into the 2030s. In 2011, Finnish Mk. 51s and Mk. 66s underwent upgrades, including a new Patria Cockpit 2000 glass cockpit and new software.
Twee uitvoeringen mogelijk:
- Hawk T.Mk.1, The Red Arrows, Royal Air Force Cranwell, UK, 2000.
- Hawk Mk.51, Midnight Hawks Aerobatics Team, Finnish Air Force academy, Kauhava AB, Finland, 2000.
afmeting:L.247mm / Br.197mm.
Aantal onderdelen; 134.