Patrick Allen reports on the first ex-RAF Hawks operating from Yeovilton.
BY APRIL 1, 1995, the lost seven Hunters operated by the Royal Navy Fleet Requirements and Aircraft Direction Unit (FRADU) will have been replaced by the Hawk. The first of 16 Hawks expected to join the fleet are currently in service at RNAS Yeovilton, operating alongside the Hunters prior to their retirement.
The FRADU Hunters and Hawks, which are maintained under contract by Flight Refuelling Services Ltd, recently renamed Cobham pic, are flown by both Royal Navy and civilian pilots and used by the Navy’s Fighter Control School, also based at Yeovilton.
Both types work alongside Cobham’s 21 Dassault Falcon 20s — the largest civil fleet of Falcons in the world — which operate out of Bournemouth Hum Airport. The Falcons are under contract with both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to undertake a variety of tasks including electronic warfare (EW) and air defence training (for both aircraft and ships), target towing, and numerous other specialist support and training roles.
They regularly undertake trie Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) Thursday’s War, operating with Hunters and Hawks in the ‘adversarial’ role against warships and fighter aircraft during Royal Navy ships’ operational work-up training. The aircraft simulate missile attacks and provide radar and communications jamming etc. The smaller Hunters and Hawks often act as air-to-surface, sea-skimming missiles launched from the wing of a Falcon, to follow through an attack on a ship.
Cobham plc has also been awarded a contract to take over the ECM training and target-towing role of the former Wyton-based 360 Sqn Canberras which retired on October 31, 1994. Six FRA Falcon 20s will be permanently based at Teesside Airport from June 1, 1995, for this role. In addition, the company also undertakes maritime surveillance and fisheries patrols on behalf of UK Government agencies. For this role it operates two Dornier 228-200s plus a Pilatus Britten-Norman Islander.
With the arrival of the new Hawks, Cobham con be considered one of the world’s leading providers of civilian support to the military. Civilian contracts such as these provide cost-effective support to military aviation in training and secondary roles — creating a growth industry within today’s ApM budget-conscious defence world.