THE AIRFORCE - AIRCRAFT - HAWK MK 120
Hawk Mk 120
The South African contract for 24 Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) aircraft became effective in 2000, under Project Winchester.
Aircraft number SA001, which was manufactured through to Final Assembly stages at Brough and flight-tested at Warton, successfully flew in South Africa early in 2004. Final Assembly of the remaining 23 aircraft was undertaken by Denel in South Africa, with flight-testing taking place in the South African Air Force's Test Flight & Development Centre (TFDC) in Bredasdorp.
The engine, powering the Hawk LIFT is a Rolls Royce/Turbomeca Adour Mark 951 engine, which is a newly developed upgrade from the Adour 871, with South Africa as the launch customer. The Adour 951 engine introduces full authority digital engine control (FADEC), care free handling and a maximum thrust output of 6 500 lbs.
The basic design dates to 1968 when the then-Hawker-Siddeley aircraft company was asked to propose a successor to the Folland Gnat. The design, innovative for its time, was named the Hawk in 1973 and flew in 1974. It entered RAF service in 1976. The Hawk Mk120 LIFT and other "second generation" Hawks (Mks 127 and 128) only have 10% commonality with the original and feature new wings, forward and centre fuselage, fin and tailplane. The new variants are also said to have four times the fatigue life of the original aircraft.
The South African purchase includes ground based training systems, mission planning and ground support systems, logistical support equipment and in-country support. All 24 LIFTs are dual seat aircraft. They will be optimised for fast-jet training as well as weapon‑delivery instruction. The normal operating speed in SAAF service will probably be 400 knots in a typical training configuration. The Hawk enjoys an exceptionally low maintenance requirement (in 1995 the lowest per flight hour of any jet aircraft in the world) as well as a remarkably low accident rate and outstanding fuel.
Besides modernising the SAAF's jet trainer capability, the Hawk has also been portrayed as a catalyst for "the reorientation and significant rejuvenation of South Africa's aerospace and defence industry", with several local partners participating as sub-contractors and suppliers to the programme under the Defence Industrial Participation programme emanating from South Africa's Hawk, Gripen and other defence system acquisitions.
"BAE Systems is thrilled that the Hawk should be the first jet aircraft to be built in the democratic South Africa. These aircraft represent the labours, capacity and expertise of a new generation of South Africans across industry and government with whom we have enjoyed several years of close collaboration. With Hawk, the training of South Africa's future fighter pilots is in safe hands and we look forward to supporting the SA Air Force as it operates the aircraft," said Mike Rennardson, the Project Director, Hawk South Africa at BAE Systems at the handover ceremony of the first two aircraft on May 24, 2006.
"With the exception of South Africa's initial Hawk (SA 250) flight test and development aircraft, which was built in the United Kingdom, all of its other Hawks were assembled at Denel's aircraft factory at Johannesburg International Airport in Kempton Park near Johannesburg," the PR added. "Under a reciprocal industrial participation agreement, Denel has become the exclusive manufacturer of tailplanes, airbrakes and flaps for the Hawk programme, with these components already being incorporated onto aircraft operated by or being built for South Africa, India, Bahrain and the UK's Royal Air Force."
"South African systems integrator, Advanced Technologies & Engineering (ATE), has been responsible for the design, development and integration of the Hawk's combat avionics and navigation suite [aka a navigation and weapons system, NWS], ensuring that the cockpits and systems on South Africa's Hawks closely resemble those which student fighter pilots will work with when they operate the Gripen fighter. This ability to customise the cockpits and systems to match those of various front-line fighters is a feature unique to Hawk and a major factor in its selection as the trainer of choice by 19 customers worldwide," the PR expanded. The NWS was developed under a R500 million (USD73 million) prime avionics subcontract from BAE Systems, the first time that the latter has placed such a contract with a foreign company. Rennardson said the order, when placed in April 2000, was the "biggest ever contract placed on a South African private sector aerospace firm." ATE has some previous experience in this field, having developed the avionics for the Rooivalk attack helicopter, the Pilatus Astra primary trainer and the NWS and mission computer for the Spanish Air Force's Mirage F-1 upgrade. The company also modernised a number of Algerian Air Force Mi-24 attack helicopters. ATE's NWS is a fully configurable "glass cockpit" integrated with an advanced navigation and mission computer system and an `intelligent' stores management and weapons-delivery system.
The delivery of the aircraft was scheduled for April but was apparently delayed, according to two independent and authoritative sources, due to software problems. An eight-strong team from BAE Systems was deployed to solve the problem. As a result, the release of ATE's NWS Operational Clearance Software Standard 2 (OC2) only took place in September. The release made the Hawk fully operational for fighter-pilot training. Final operational clearance is planned for mid-2007 ad will allow the aircraft to drop ordnance. OC1 was released in June 2006 and allowed the commencement of flight operations on the 5th of that month. An earlier programme delay was the result of the Adour engine failing its first encounter with a bird circa October 2005.
The September 2006 International Defence Review (IDR) noted that the NWS Stores Management Unit was to be certified to RTCA 178B Level A and the overall operational flight programme and individual hardware items such as the mission computers, displays and audio-management unit to Level B "A particular feature of the Hawk Mk 120 NWS is its radar-simulation function," the IDR said. "This approach was selected as the most cost-effective way to provide in-flight radar training, which is vastly cheaper than installing and maintaining a suitable radar in the LIFT or conducting that training on the Gripen itself. The radar simulation will be used to give future Gripen pilots their initial training in the use of radar in air-to-air combat, and has been designed to give the trainees a close approximation of the capabilities and data that will be provided in that role by the Gripen's actual Ericsson PS-05/A radar," the IDR added.
ATE explains that the radar simulation air-to-air target generation has two modes: Virtual formations can be generated within the system itself and simulated as radar targets. This function allows for single-aircraft radar simulation exercises. Secondly, up to eight co-operating aircraft can acquire each other as radar targets through Link ZA, a digital network protocol that uses one of the Hawk's three Reutech Defence Industries ACR500 U/VHF radios. Link ZA ensures that every aircraft continuously transfers positional data to every other. This data is then processed by the mission computer on the co-operating aircraft in the network to render a real-time radar page. Displayable on any of the six multi-function displays (MFDs) in the LIFT's tandem glass cockpit, the radar page provides the pilot with radar target information, as if the aircraft were fitted with a real fire control radar system.
Link ZA was developed by Thales Advanced Engineering, a South African company that should not be confused with Thales, the notorious French multinational. The IDR notes data transmission is by way of one of three RDI V/UHF ACR 500 radios installed in each Hawk and is managed by an ATE-developed audio-management system.
The British publication further adds that the ersatz (replacement) radar uses a range-while-scan format as primary mode and a single target track of the highest priority target as a secondary mode. "The pilot can also select up to five priority targets," the IDR said. "The display will provide action volumes for both an intercept missile and a self-defence missile. Radar targets may also be acquired by searching the HUD [head-up display] field of view, with four radar combat modes available: HUD Search, HUD Slewable Box, HUD Boresight and HUD Vertical Scan."
The Radar Simulation System was tested at the SAAF's Test Flight Development Centre, located near Bredasdorp in the Western Cape in early 2006. Initial results indicated that the system was extremely stable up to ranges well outside the required specification. "The test pilot stated that the tracked radar targets were displayed with acceptable accuracy in the HUD," ATE said in a report on the February flight tests. "The RF data-link was tested down to ranges of 200 meters and performed extremely well at close range. All parties involved in the flight-testing were extremely impressed with the performance of the radar simulation, in particular BAE Systems the prime contractor, who stated that the LIFT Radar Simulation System surpassed all existing radar simulations systems in performance and function in existence on their aircraft."
The primary objective of the February flight tests was to check the stability and robustness of the RF datalink between two networked aircraft. Flight-testing included monitoring the RF datalink stability for non-manoeuvring aircraft and for manoeuvring aircraft.
"The navigation element of the NWS combines a laser-gyro inertial navigation system with a GPS unit to achieve an optimal mix of accuracy (GPS) and continuity (INS)," the IDR added. "It provides the pilot with steering, time and fuel guidance. That can be in relation to a pre-planned mission downloaded by means of a portable data store, in relation to routes planned in flight or in relation to points selected by the pilot. The portable data store can also be used for post-mission avionic data downloading for debriefing and analysis purposes. The NWS includes an integral photo-reconnaissance function.
The ATE stores-management system has been fully certified as safety-critical to international standards, the IDR added. "It provides armament management and control for both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations." The IDR notes it has been developed to RTCA Level A standard and will be certified as such.
The Hawk features a Saab Avitronics electronic-warfare system, comprising a radar-warning receiver (RWR) and a countermeasures dispenser subsystem. "It has been developed on the basis of the multisensor system developed for the SAAF's fighters, and can later be expanded or upgraded if that is required," the IDR added. The communications system is fully redundant with three ACR 500 radios, as previously noted, and can be used for voice and data communications and relay, "telebriefing" and as hardware host for Link ZA. "The audio-management system also provides an intercom function, the ground-crew interface and various caution and warning functions, and manages aspects of the radio navigation function (TACAN, VOR, ILS)," the IDR said.
Other system elements include:
· a Selex Sensor and Airborne Systems forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, incorporating a camera developed jointly with Denel;|
· a laser rangefinder;
· a Tellumat PT-2000 IFF (identification friend-or-foe)/Mode S transponder and crypto unit;
· crew actions, flight parameters, events and configuration logging;
· time-stamped HUD video and cockpit audio and voice recording;
· system status monitoring providing real-time recording of system failures and of avionics and aircraft system events, which can be displayed on an MFD and recorded for later retrieval. Both this health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) and the cockpit voice recorders were developed by Aerospace Monitoring Systems (AMS), now part of Saab Grintek.
"The integrated avionics are managed by dual-redundant mission computers developed by ATE, and the system runs on a dual-redundant MIL-STD-1553 databus," the IDR explained.
The AMS-designed cockpit voice recorders, flight data recorders and HUMS are offered as standard on all new Hawks. They are already fitted to the Australian Hawk fleet and those operated by the NATO Flight Training Centre in Canada.
Gripen and Hawk pilots will be trained at a Centralised Training Centre (CTC) at AFB Makhado also established under Project Winchester and handed over to the SAAF in late 2005. "As the ‘Fighter Centre of Excellence' of the SA Air Force, it is appropriate that Makhado Air Force Base provides the teaching and learning environment to match the intricacies of the aircraft systems," the SA Soldier enthused in its November 2005 edition. In keeping with the latest pedagogic principles, the CTC provides a comprehensive computer based instruction system (CBIS) and a Virtual Aircraft Training System (VATS) for ground and aircrews at 85 Combat Flying School. "While the CBIS provides basic and advanced knowledge of aircraft systems for aircrew using instructor lead and self-paced learning strategies, an Integrated Training Management System (ITMS) manages student activities and provides access to student records," SA Soldier added.
"...VATS provides students with the capability to practice the operation, maintenance and diagnosis of faults in complex aircraft systems," SA Soldier continued. "The training device responds in exactly the same manner as the real aircraft in normal and fault modes, allowing for the free-flow execution of maintenance procedures and fault diagnostic training. VATS is designed to reinforce and consolidate the knowledge gained through the CBIS courses by facilitating the ‘practical' experience of interacting with the aircraft and its systems in a benign, glass screen environment. The VATS courseware is accessed through the same high-resolution twin-screen units of the CBIS classrooms, the student interacting via mouse and stick and throttle units." The Operational Flight Trainer soft- and hardware was developed by BAE Systems Australia and installed by Thoroughtec.
Pilots have to fly the Hawk about 430 hours and pass a number of courses before graduating to the Saab Gripen.