Somewhat lost in the Defence White Paper noise is a new $5 billion project to replace the RAAF’s Hawk lead-in fighter trainers.
The White Paper’s accompanying Integrated Investment Program document, which outlines new defence capability acquisitions, briefly notes that it: “…also includes a substantial provision for a new lead-in fighter training system to support those students who go on to complete the ADF’s fast jet pilot training.”
The Integrated Investment Program, released alongside the Defence White Paper on Thursday, provides little other detail other than a line in a “summary of key investment decisions” table that shows the ‘Lead-In Fighter Training System’ program has a timeframe of 2022-2033 and an “approximate investment value” budget range of $4-5 billion.
The RAAF’s 76 and 79 Squadrons operate 33 BAE Systems Hawk 127 jets in the lead-in fighter role. The aircraft entered service in 2001 and are currently being upgraded under the AIR 5438 Lead-In Fighter Capability Assurance Program.
Meanwhile, the Integrated Investment Program also reveals a requirement for a “Training Support Aircraft”, which appears in a summary of key investment decisions table with a timeframe of 2019-2024 with a $100-200 million “approximate investment value”.
No other details are provided, but the project may be to replace 32 Squadron’s King Air twin turboprops used to support the School of Air Warfare.