The world-famous RAF Red Arrows aerobatics team has today hailed the Fylde-built aircraft which they have used to wow the crowds for more than three decades.
The Hawk T1 was built for the team by BAE Systems and the company still works alongside them to provide engineering support and spares to the team.
To mark the Reds’ 50th display season, the company has commissioned a special video which charts the development of the team over the past five decades, including when they started flying Hawks in 1979.
Today, the company’s sites in Warton and Samlesbury, Lancashire, build the next generation of the aircraft –the Hawk T2, used to train the RAF’s pilots of the future.
Squadron Leader Jim Turner, Team Leader of the Red Arrows and Red 1, said: ”As the new film perfectly captures, the Red Arrows have enjoyed a long, and highly- successful, partnership with BAE Systems by flying the Hawk aircraft.
“The jet is a testimony to British engineering and excellence – hallmarks of both the Royal Air Force and BAE Systems. The Red Arrows have inspired and entertained millions of people since 1965 and, in our 50th season, continue to represent the RAF, the United Kingdom and our nation’s industry at home and overseas.
“With the support of the latest technology and engineering, I hope the Red Arrows can go on and carry out this important role for many years to come – celebrating and showing the very best of British.”
To mark the launch of the video, the Reds met thousands of members of the public to have their photographs taken with the pilots at a special event organised by BAE Systems at Victoria Station in London.
Chris Boardman, managing director of BAE Systems Military Air and Information business, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our long association with the RAF Red Arrows, who inspire audiences across the globe with their incredible flying displays. With that in mind, we wanted to celebrate their 50th.”
The video takes the history of the Reds through from the early days when they flew the Folland Gnat aircraft through to the present day. Hawk is currently in service with 18 air forces across the world, where it has been used to train more than 20,000 pilots, and is the future lead-in F35 trainer for the RAF and the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Hawk T2 Advanced Jet Trainer features the very latest in advanced simulation for radar, weapons and defensive aids training. In-flight simulation of sensors, state-of-the-art pilot-vehicle interface, and the ability to use simulated weapons provides trainee pilots with a realistic environment before they graduate to flying aircraft, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and F35 Lightning II.
The main fuselage of the Hawk T2 aircraft is manufactured at BAE’s Warton site, which also carries out final assembly and test-flying work.