The only true British military transport aircraft type in Royal Air Force service has turned 35 years old. On 3 September 1981 the BAe 146 took first to the skies, as a regional airliner, at Hatfield in Hertfordshire. Many years later the four RAF machines are part of the surviving active fleet of 220 BAe 146s worldwide.
Serving with No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Nordholt two BAe 146 CCMk2s are there to transport members of the Royal Family and other senior government or military hotshots. A pair of grey painted BAe 146 CMk3s – based on the civilian QC variant – provide tactical air transport in both the passenger and palletised freight role.
RAF’s quartet are part of a successful British regional jetliner production when looking at the numbers. A total of 394 BAe 146s – and its successor the Avro RJ – were built until production ceased after 22 years of operations in November 2003 in Woodford, Ceshire. Together the type has made more than 12 million hours of flight.
In a civilian role the BAe 146s often provide freight services, for example with Virgin Australia. In parts of Europe the type is commonly deployed as city hopper, for example between Stockholm-Bromma and Brussels IAP.
In the aerial firefighting role three operators in North America will use the machine as a 3000 gallon fire extinguisher and are replacing older piston and turboprop aircraft.
With many of the aircraft having made 20,000 to 35,000 take-offs and landings, most of the BAe 146s are still very much able to double or almost triple that number the coming decades.
The final 11 of originally 30 British Aerospace Sea Harriers have said so long to their motherland India, after serving the second largest populated country in the world for 33 years.
Six Sea Harriers already left the Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat on 6 March 2016, when the vessel – due to be retired itself this year – returned to Mumbai from its last cruise.
Russian-made to modern battlefield
The Indian Sea Harriers soldiered on a decade longer after the British Royal Navy retired their aircraft. Delivered first in 1983 the Indian Sea Harriers had little left to bring on a modern battlefield. Their role has been taken up by Russian-made Mikoyan-Gurevich designed, Irkut built MiG-29Ks. Of those jets – with the NATO reporting name Fulcrum – 30 of 45 ordered have been delivered.
Indian Navy aircraft carriers
The new breed will has not only equipped the air wing of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with a nice combat element, it will also serve on board the new INS Vikrant when it will start sailing in 2019.
Sea Harriers in museums
For the remaining 11 India Sea Harriers the Autumn of their lives might come with a spotlight, when they will keep on serving as museum items on several locations. For now, they are stored at Indian Naval Air Station Hansa in Goa, until they began what must be the last journey of their lives. No more vertical take-offs, just a final landing.
The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) on Thursday 12 March says goodbye to its British Aerospace Hawk Mk 53 trainers. A special farewell ceremony is held at Iswahjudi Air Force Base, where the last Hawks are retired after close to 35 years of training pilots.
The first of 20 Hawks came to Indonesia in September 1980. The type is now being replaced by 16 Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50i Golden Eagle trainers, ordered in 2011 for 400 million USD. The last of those were delivered last year.
One Hawk will fly for the last time on Thursday from Iswahjudi Air Force Base. Afterwards, the aircraft is destined to be put on display in aviation museum Dirgantara Mandala in Yogyakarta. Other versions of the Hawk, such as the single seat Hawk Mk209 attack variant, remain in service in Indonesia.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the 75th Hawk advanced training and light attack aircraft – designed by British Aerospace – to the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Aero India 2015 on 20 February 2015. HAL produces the aircraft under license.
The first Hawk was handed over to IAF in August 2008. Since then the type has accumulated 70,000 flight hours.
The Hawk 132 is an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) with tandem dual seats meant to provide basic, advanced flying and weapons training. The aircraft is equipped with Inertial Navigation / Global Positioning System, Heads-Up Display and Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) controls.
Hawks are not only advanced trainers, but can serve as as ground-support aircraft and light air defence fighters as well. The aircraft has seven hard points to carry external stores with a possible 12 types of combinations to carry the stores.
The Indian Air Force received the first series of the Hawk directly from British Aerospace / BAE Systems: 24 aircraft with the first entering service in February 2008. The first batch of 42 Hawks produced by HAL came in 2011 and 2012. A second contract was signed in 2010, for the supply of another 40 Hawk AJTs. With now 21 aircraft of the second batch delivered the program is aimed to run until 2017.
The Indian Navy ordered 17 Hawks in July 2010. Seventeen have been delivered, the last should join the fleet in 2017.
A missing file has urged India to re-issue a Request for Proposal (RpF) this month for 20 Hawk trainer aircraft for the India Air Force’s Surya Kiran aerobatics Team. The team flew the Indian made HJT-16 Kiran MkII trainers previously, but ceased flying those in 2011 awaiting the new Hawks. Procurement of the new aircraft has now been delayed by up to a year.
Since 2004, India has ordered 123 BAe Systems Hawk Mk132 trainer aircraft, of which the first few were built in the UK, with the remainder being build by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bangalore. Over 40 aircraft have already been delivered. The trainers will be used for Air Force and Navy jet pilot training.
Talk of an extra 20 aircraft for the Surya Kiran team has been around for several years. The deal is worth about 333 million USD. Authorities have ordered an inquiry into why and how the original RpF-file went missing,