A Lancashire MP has urged the Government to invest in the next generation of fast jet training aircraft.
Fylde’s Mark Menzies was speaking in the House of Commons in a Combat Air Strategy debate in Parliament and heaped praise of BAE Systems Hawk aircraft, as flown by the Red Arrows and which helps support jobs at the firm’s Warton site.
He said: “From design to final assembly, Hawk is not part of a large multinational pan-European consortium, but is 100 per cent British.
“We need to ensure not only that we retain the true sovereign capability demonstrated in Hawk, but that we think about what the future of Hawk looks like and what its successor aircraft will be.
“Hawk fills an incredibly important role. Not only is it a trainer aircraft, which every modern air force across the world requires — Hawk is the platform of choice in training for the Typhoon, the F-35 and similar types of aircraft — but it has other uses as light tactical support and, in many air forces around the world, as a display aircraft, which is a great way to represent a country’s air force.
“However, that will be the case only if we are now serious about investing in and developing a successor platform.
“Hawk has had many life extensions. That is wonderful, but at some point we will need to look at investing in and developing a new platform.
“My request to the minister is that that becomes a priority, and that we start to identify what that looks like.
“It would be not a crying shame but criminal if the replacement for Hawk were something that we bought off the shelf, even if from our closest allies.
“We can, and must, do better than that. My big ask to the minister is that, as part of a combat air strategy, we think of that trainer solution.”
He added that a trainer as successful as Hawk would also be a big export earner for the UK.
The Hawk first flew in 1974 and more than 900 have been sold world wide. It has undergone a series of upgrades over the years and has been produced in one and two seat versions.