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Royal Canadian Air Force retires BAE Systems CT-155 Hawks

The CT-155 Hawks are retired, and despite the RCAF's plans it remains unclear when fighter pilot training will return to Canada. (BAE Systems)

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has retired its fleet of BAE Systems CT-155 Hawk fighter lead-in training aircraft, according to a 4 March release by the service.

The NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) operated 17 CT-155s from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, with the first delivered in 2000.

“With the Hawk reaching the end of its service life after 20 years, Canada, along with many countries is faced with the challenges of what will be the next jet trainer in a world of fifth-generation fighter aircraft,” Colonel Adam Carlson, director of Royal Canadian Air Force training, said in an 8 March statement.

The RCAF already sends some trainees to the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) programme at Sheppard AFB, Texas, which currently hosts five Canadian instructor pilots and up to six Canadian students. The number of students has been upped to seven, said the RCAF. Additional students are to be sent to the International Flying Training School at Decimomannu, Italy, the RCAF told Janes on 18 March.

“This bridging solution is expected to be in place for up to 8 years,” said the RCAF. “To further diversify the bridge training for Fighter Lead-in Training (FLiT), the RCAF is currently investigating options to establish an arrangement with Finland for limited participation in their FLiT programme,” the RCAF continued.

The service ultimately plans to purchase new fighter lead-in trainers via the Future Fighter Lead-In Training (FFLIT) programme, which has yet to fully get under way.

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