COVERS MORE GROUND
BAE Systems — upgrade to ensure aircraft provides broadest spectrum of training
THE upgrade to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) Hawk aircraft is aimed primarily at the single seat light attack Mk.208.
BAE Systems, which manufactures the aircraft, said the upgrade mainly focused on the detection, self-protection and mission planning capabilities.
BAE Systems regional sales director Steve Osborne said the upgrade, however, could be made applicable to the Mk.108 variant of the aircraft.
(The Mk.108 is the two-seat variant used primarily as an advanced jet trainer, while the Mk.208 is a single-seat aircraft, which is used in Malaysia for light attack and as a point-air defence fighter.)
BAE Systems and Airod Sdn Bhd signed a deal last year for the upgrade of the aircraft, which was expected to take three years.
“BAE Systems has been privileged to support the RMAF with their Hawk fleet for nearly 22 years.
“The aircraft is globally recognised as the best fast-jet trainer in the world and like the other 18 operators globally, we believe the RMAF is very happy with theirs.
“For the past 15 years, BAE Systems has worked very closely with Airod, which is contracted to do scheduled servicing of the Hawk.
“Due to their understanding of the systems, gained through this level of servicing, Airod is clearly the most experienced Hawk maintainers in Malaysia outside RMAF.
“It makes good sense for a joint Airod–BAE Systems upgrade solution, as this provides the RMAF with the least risk and highest capability solution,” said Osborne.
He said the upgrades to the Mk.208s would provide the best operational enhancement for RMAF’s needs and developing threats.
“The upgrade also provides a major enhancement to the overall RMAF Electronic Warfare (EW) capability. So, it does not only benefit Hawk users, it brings key capability to the RMAF.
“The Hawk is sustainable for the next 10 years, so this is an excellent investment, keeping the Mk.208 in tandem with the changing Malaysian operational environment,” he said.
Osborne said the Hawk, though already the most successful advanced jet trainer in the world and one with light combat capabilities, continued to evolve to meet training requirements of current and future generations of fighter aircraft.
“The goal for BAE Systems is to always ensure the aircraft provides the broadest spectrum of training... equally, BAE Systems also looks for the opportunity to absorb some of the higher elements of basic training into the Hawk, expanding the utilisation of the aircraft right across the training pipeline.
“For the air force, this means less training asset types required and less training hours as it is more expensive to operate fighters.
“The latest technology sensor simulation suite with datalink is incorporated into the mission system aboard. This allows for realistic training to be carried out against synthetic and real targets in both the air-to-air and air-to-ground domains.
“Scenarios can be either preprogrammed prior to the sortie, or in real time by the instructor from the rear cockpit.
“A wide range of air and ground targets, threats and weapons are fitted into the simulation engine, ensuring the training scenarios are as close to the real thing as possible.
“For example, if the student reacts correctly to a situation in terms of manoeuvres and countermeasures or weapons deployment, he will survive.
“If not, he will receive an indication in the HUD (head-up display) that he was ‘killed’.
“Training can be repeated throughout the sortie without the need for real weapons, radar, or countermeasures, providing highly economical and highly effective training without the need for costly weapons or EW ranges.”
The new Hawk aircraft, said Osborne, had a “glass” cockpit layout, hands-on-throttle-andstick (HOTAS), moding and switching, which was representative of current and future fighters, with full colour multifunction displays and HUD.
“The cockpit is fully NVG (night vision goggles) compatible with full digital mission data recording, providing a complete mission debrief capability.
“Since fast-jet aircrew should learn their combat skills in a jet aircraft, the reliable and powerful Rolls-Royce Adour Mk.951 engine gives the Hawk the performance required.
“All of this is wrapped up in the well-proven Hawk airframe with a comprehensive HUMS (Health and Usage Management System) to ensure optimised maintenance and fleet management. The entire Hawk Training System is designed to provide the highest level of aircrew training at the cheapest through-life cost.”
Meanwhile, BAE Systems announced that its Artisan 3D radar system had successfully completed three years of seabased trials on the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates, and had also been fitted on the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The radar, which can track more than 800 objects simultaneously from 200m to 200km away — and cut through radio interference equal to 10,000 mobile phone signals — has undertaken sea trials across multiple Royal Navy frigates since 2013 and proved its capabilities in an operational environment.
Under a £105 million (RM574 million) contract, BAE Systems will develop, manufacture and provide support for 19 of the radars for the Royal Navy until 2022.
The 19th Artisan 3D radar has now successfully completed factory acceptance testing and all 19 radars will be delivered to the United Kingdom Defence Ministry by the middle of this year.
BAE Systems products and training services director Les Gregory said the Artisan 3D was a groundbreaking radar system that delivered real capability to the Royal Navy with its supreme accuracy and uncompromising tracking.
“Its world-leading electronic protection measure ensures that even complex jammers will not reduce its effectiveness.
“Artisan 3D has now been extensively tested, demonstrating high performance with significant flexibility to meet current and future threats.
“It provides air and surface surveillance and target tracking to support platform and weapon system requirements on a wide range of platforms. BAE Systems is proud to continue its record of providing the most advanced radar capabilities to the Royal Navy.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak visiting the BAE Systems booth after opening the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima) 2017 at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre yesterday.
The Hawk Mk.108