BAE Systems Enhances UK Royal Air Force Training Capabilities


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BAE Systems Enhances UK Royal Air Force Training Capabilities

By Mike Mitchell

April 20, 2011 - UK Royal Air Force (RAF) fast jet pilot training is now more representative of flying front line aircraft than ever before thanks to engineers at BAE Systems.

A software upgrade, referred to as Operational Capability 2 (OC2), is a significant and sophisticated enhancement to the existing software on the RAF’s Hawk TMk2.   

Designed and developed by BAE Systems engineers, work to install the new software upgrades on the Hawk TMk2 has commenced at RAF Valley, Anglesey. This work demonstrates the Company’s ability to support the RAF’s need for improved efficiency and capability enhancement.

The software provides the Hawk with simulated radar and sensor capability including: a radar warning receiver, defensive aids, and an enhanced weapons suite including medium range air-to-air missiles.  With the new upgrade the aircraft can also simulate the threat posed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile site.

OC2 is fully integrated with mission planning and debrief systems, which allow the student pilot to plan, train and fly simulated missions using synthetic radar. The pilot can also carry out virtual operational maneuvers to defeat threats using synthetic weapons. 

The capability to generate a virtual training environment has long term benefits for the customer.  It will enable the trainee pilot to train longer in a Hawk before moving their training to front line operational aircraft such as Tornado, Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II, better preparing the trainee pilots of the future at an affordable cost. 

Wing Commander Brian Braid, Officer Commanding 19 Squadron, said:  “The new TMk2 is an absolute step change in the way we can conduct our fast jet flying training. The pilots experience a totally different training environment. Now the navigating and flying is the easy part. The real challenge is trying to interpret the information and interact with the technology. 

“The new Hawk was streets ahead of its predecessor even before the software upload, but with it the pilots are able to train almost exactly as they are on the front line. They could not be happier. It takes students a lot further down the training road and gives them something much more akin to a front line training experience.”


Martin Rushton Senior Vice President Training Services & Solutions said: “The capabilities that the OC2 upgrade delivers make the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer stand out from other training aircraft. Armed forces are now able to have the confidence that their fast jet trainee pilots are trained to the highest standard at an affordable cost.” 

Over 900 Hawk aircraft have been sold, or are on order to date and the aircraft is currently helping produce highly trained pilots across 25 countries. With 18 customers worldwide including Australia, Canada, South Africa, Bahrain, India and the UK Royal Air Force, the Hawk aircraft has been widely exported around the world.

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