First SA-assembled Hawk completes maiden flight

14th January 2005

South Africa's first locally-assembled Hawk fighter trainer aircraft successfully completed its maiden flight yesterday.

The aircraft, a BAE Systems Hawk Mk 120, was flown by South African industry test pilot Dave Stock, together with Gordon McClymont, test pilot for the UK aerospace and defence group BAE Systems.

They took off from Denel Aviation, at Johannesburg International Airport, on a 70-minute test flight, during which the aircraft's flight controls and response and essential systems functionality were confirmed.

Denel Aviation, under contract to BAE Systems, assembled the new fighter trainer at its recently-refurbished facility.

State-owned enterprise Denel, which manufactures Hawk aerostructures, including the tailplane and airbrake, is assembling 23 of the 24 new jet trainers.

The sole UK-assembled aircraft is currently based at the South African Air Force's Test Flight and Development Centre, near Bredasdorp, where it has been engaged in flight testing the navigation and combat training systems, which are designed and developed by the local company ATE (Advanced Technologies and Engineering).

“We are proud of this milestone in the Hawk programme,” said Denel group executive director (aerospace) Knox Msebenzi.

“Chief of the South African Air Force Lt Gen Roelf Beukes recently visited the Hawk final assembly line, congratulating Denel and BAE Systems on the outstanding work done in South Africa.”

Hawk deliveries to the South African Air Force are on schedule to begin by mid-year, continuing at a rate of two aircraft a month until mid-2006.

BAE Systems vice-president for South Africa Jonathan Walton said: “The progress which has been made is due to the successful close collaboration of the joint South African Hawk programme team, most notably the invaluable contributions from the South African Air Force, Armscor, Denel, ATE and Rolls-Royce.

“At the same time that we are building and developing South Africa's new aircraft, we are also getting on with the job of delivering $8,7-billion of new economic benefits to the country through our various and widespread industrial participation activities in the defence, aerospace and numerous civil sectors,” he added.