A continuing shortage of capacity in its flying training organisation has led the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) to return to training pilots on Hawk T1 aircraft, three years after it retired the analog cockpit-equipped jet from this role.
Later this year, the RAF will begin training fast jet pilots at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire using Hawk T1 aircraft from 100 Squadron, which is normally tasked with flying dissimilar or aggressor training missions.
An RAF spokesman told Jane's on 21 January, "100 Squadron is not being re-roled and will continue to deliver operational training and dissimilar air combat training. However, as one of several innovative measures, the RAF is planning to use spare Hawk T1 capacity in the squadron to assist with pilot training. This will maximise throughput to the front line while the Military Flying Training System [MFTS] continues to grow."
An RAF source confirmed to Jane's that approximately six pilots a year would be trained at RAF Leeming from "this summer".
The Hawk T1 variant entered RAF service in 1976 but was retired from the advanced fast jet pilot training role in June 2016 with the disbandment of 206 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Valley on the Welsh island of Anglesey. All UK advanced pilot training then migrated to the 'glass' cockpit-equipped Hawk T2 at RAF Valley.
Hawk T1s were retained in the dissimilar and operational flying training role with 100 Squadron and 736 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall. The RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team also operates the T1.
The UK expects its fleet of some 80 Hawk T1s to be retired by 2030. Just under half of the fleet is used on a daily basis, with the rest held in a spares and maintenance pool.
The RAF source said 100 Squadron's aircraft were being used for fast jet training because of a recent surge in recruitment.
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