Sunday, October 12, 2014

Red Arrows 'should replace their aging British-made Hawk jets with second hand American planes'

  • The Hawk T1 jet used by the Red Arrows due to be replaced in 2018
  • Senior RAF officer has suggested they should be replaced with F-16s
  • Lt Commander Tim Flatman says there's a possibility of buying older aircraft
  • But critics say the display team should be using British-built jets
  • Ministry of Defence say no decision has been taken on the replacement planes

It had been thought that the Hawk T1 flown the Red Arrows could be replaced by its successor the T2.

But Lieutenant Commander Tim Flatman, who trains pilots for the Fleet Air Arm, has now said that the Falcon F-16 should be considered as a replacement.

Speaking to AirForces Monthly, he said: 'The out of service date is only six years away and the requirement to find a replacement is ongoing. As yet no decision has been made but there are several options being evaluated. We could have some Hawk T2s. There is also the possibility of buying some older F-16s.'

The F-16 was developed for the US Air Force and is currently used by the American aerobatics display team the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, nicknamed the Thunderbirds.

It has been reported that the Ministry of Defense could purchase the F-16s from the Danish air force, who are looking to replace their fleet. 

But the suggestion has not gone down well with some, who believe that the Red Arrows represent both the skill of the British pilots and British engineering.

Air Commander Andrew Lambert, who served in Iraq told the Sunday Express: 'This is a ridiculous idea.

'Red Arrow Hawks are currently available for both training and a war role. If we bought the F-16s, it would be much more difficult and expensive to convert them to a war role.'

Earlier this year there were concerns that the RAF display team could be grounded unless its aging planes are replaced.

- Read more here

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