RFP to BAE Systems for 20 more Hawks for IAF aerobatics team
In addition to the 123 Hawks already ordered, some of which are in service with the Indian Air Force, the IAF’s aerobatics display team, the erstwhile Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) has been non-functional since it disbanded last year, handing over its Kiran Mk2 intermediate trainers for pilot training. It had been known for a while that the Kiran would be replaced with the more powerful BAE Hawk.
The wheels have begun turning now with HAL sending out an RFP to BAE Systems for a potential order to supply products and services for the manufacture of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft. According to a BAE statement, “The aircraft, to be built by HAL in Bengaluru, will fulfill the Indian Air Force’s requirement for its prestigious aerobatic team. Upon successful conclusion, this would be the third contract placed on BAE Systems for supply of materials and equipment for the Hawk Mk132, building upon previous orders of 66 aircraft in 2004, comprising supply of 24 Hawk aircrafts in flyaway condition and 42 aircraft built under licence by HAL, and a further 57 aircraft in 2010.” The IAF Hawks stationed at Bidar in Karnataka are already being used for lead-in fighter training of pilots.
Guy Griffiths, Group MD, International, said, “This is a tremendous opportunity to build on the success of Hawk in India and demonstrates the progress we are making in capturing significant opportunities to address the defence modernisation requirements of the Indian Government. Together with HAL, we look forward to giving the Indian Air Force’s display team a fantastic aircraft.” It is understood that the IAF’s rejuvenated display team might revert to its original name, Thunderbolts, a name it had when it flew the British-built Hunter aircraft.