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RAF Hawk life extension program
Published April 21, 1998 by Royal Aeronautical Society in United Kingdom
The Hawk aircraft entered service with the RAF in 1976 and, as it is now reaching the end of its original design life, work is underway to achieve an out-of-service date of 2010. The associated studies are divided into 2 parts to facilitate the required life extension. Initial studies provided a series of interim life extensions to allow fleet availability to be sustained in the short term and, when concluded, will detail the work required to support a target full-life extension of 200 Fatigue Index (FI), 10200 Flying Hours (FH) and 25000 Landings (Ldgs). The second phase, which utilizes these initial findings, enables a structural rework of 80 aircraft by center and rear fuselage replacement. This rework program will provide time to assess the options for replacing Hawk and, more importantly, permit fleet availability to be further sustained until 2005 - the earliest practicable In-Service Date for a replacement aircraft.
This complex and technically ambitious life extension program has been crafted by a joint RAF/DERA/BAe team against a backdrop of continually emerging structural problems with high life in-service aircraft and the need to sustain the availability fleet. Routine inspection of the full-scale fatigue test has revealed significant damage to the fuselage and empennage. The article therefore considers the lifting history of the aircraft and some of the associated structural issues. It then describes the RAF's strategy for life extension, before concluding with some of the lessons learned