Author Topic: Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk  (Read 356 times)

Offline apophenia

  • Perversely enjoys removing backgrounds.
  • Patterns? What patterns?
Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk
« on: March 19, 2024, 10:59:50 AM »
The Retiring of Canada's CT-155 Hawk Jet Trainers

Background

The Department of National Defence's (DND) closing of the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) programme came as a surprise to many. On 08 March 2024, Ottawa confirmed the retirement of RCAF CT-155 Hawk jet trainers without any planned replacement procurement. Then, the RCAF's 419 Tactical Fighter Squadron - which had operated the CT-155s - held a halt of operations ceremony at CFB Cold Lake. Press releases emphasized that the CT-155s had reached the end of their flying lives and that the contract with NFTC support provider CAE was also at its end.

Since 1995, NDHQ's DAR 5 - the Directorate of Air Requirements - Fighters and Trainers - had been tasked with  planning a new Canadian Aerospace Training Program (CATP). Those CATP schemes were eclipsed by DND's shift from outright purchases to Alternate Service Delivery (ASD) services. [1] The result was the 2000 NATO Flying Training in Canada plan. The support contract for the NFTC programme went to Bombardier Aerospace in 2005.  But, a decade into a 20-year contract, Bombardier lost interest and sold its entire Military Aviation Training business to simulation-specialists, CAE Inc.

Several elements of this - the closing of NATO Flying Training in Canada, the operational hiatus for 419 TFS, and the end of Fighter Lead-In Training (FLIT) in Canada - are surprising. DND's long-held desire for all air training to be held at a single location may have some bearing upon the closing of NFTC (although DND's planned Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) programme will probably retain the current, diverse basing). 419 TFS' cessation of operations suggests a temporary measure - yet no CT-155 replacement is planned. And then there is the future of RCAF FLIT operations.

Future Canadian Fast-Jet Pilot Training ... Y'All

We are informed that a 'bridge' training programme will come under the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) programme at the US Air Force's Sheppard AFB near Wichita Falls in northern Texas. Canada will also take advantage of NATO FLIT programmes, including one in newly-joined NATO member Finland. And this is where aircraft age and airframe lifespans become part of the inconsistencies of the NFTC story.

At the time of their retirement, the CT-155 airframes averaged 24 years of age. At ENJJPT, Canadian pilots will train on T-38C Talons - jets which are between 52- and 63-years-old. That is not a problem in itself - the USAF T-38s are well-maintained and have been updated. [2] Slightly odd is that the T-38 is closely related to the Canadair CF-5B once used to help train CF-18 pilots. The final CF-5B trainers were delivered two years after T-38 production ended but, nonetheless, Canada retired the CF-5s in 1995.

A less extreme version of the T-38/CF-5B story extended to the BAe Hawk. The CT-155 Hawk entered Canadian service in 2000. But, now, Canadian pilots will avail themselves of Fighter Lead-In Training in Finland. Finnish FLIT (aka HW 2 training) also makes use of BAe Hawk trainers. This includes updated but still 44-year-old Hawk Mk 51s. In several ways, Finland's Hawks are less sophisticated than the retired CT-155s - but that should not surprise since those Finnish Hawk Mk. 51s are 20 years older than the CT-155s. Still, it does make DND statements about airframe age a little difficult to parse.

(To be Continued ...)

____________________________________________

[1] Since then, DND's endless quest for perfection over good-enough has continued unabated. While CATP had been replaced by contracted NATO Flying Training in Canada service, most of NFTC was, in turn, meant be be replaced by the Future Pilot Training System (FPTS) according to the 2015 Defence Acquisition Guide. But FPTS was focused exclusively on ab initio pilot training - not on fast jets like the BAe Hawk. By 2018, FPTS had been broadened into the Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) programme.

FAcT was intended to combine KF/Allied Wings' Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) - the ab initio element - with Phases I through III of the NFTC as well as other RCAF flight training programmes. But, FAcT is not expected to bear fruit until at least 2028/2029. And, once again, FAcT omits all Hawk-replacement Fighter Lead-In Training from consideration.

[2] For some reason, DND press releases make specific mention of the T-38Cs' Block 16 avionics and weather radar upgrades. Useful to be sure but these USAF modifications date back more than a decade (to before CAE even took over support at NFTC).
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes." - Agent Rogersz

Offline apophenia

  • Perversely enjoys removing backgrounds.
  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2024, 11:02:36 AM »
Born Again - Post-Retirement CT-155 Hawks

Although the March 2024 Government of Canada and RCAF statements on the closing of NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) were befuddling, by summertime, the pieces had begun to fall into place. The CT-155s had always been leased aircraft and CAE Canada retained ownership of these Hawks. In May 2024, 16 partially-disassembled CT-155s were sent by sea in two shipments from Thunder Bay, ON, to the Port of Gdynia in Poland. Delivered the final 10 km by road, the CT-155s were then re-assembled at the Gdynia-Oksywie (QYD) airport.

From QYD, CAE contract pilots - many of them ex-RCAF - flew the first six re-assembled CT-155s to the Polish Air Force field at Deblin (Irena, Baza lotnicza Deblin). There, a new training organization was stood up - the NATO Air Training in Europe (NATIE) programme. [1] Through this, Poland joined Italy and Finland in providing Europe-based Fighter Lead-In Training (FLIT). These NATIE would also become regular visitors to the 31.BLoT - home field of the Polish Air Force's F-16 fighters.
 
Image - Bottom 'NATIE 211' - a CT-155 Hawk of the NATO Air Training in Europe programme based at Deblin, Poland. Canadian markings have been overpainted and stylized NATO roundels applied.

Individual NATIE Hawks were named for WW2 RCAF pilots and Canadians serving with the RAF in Europe. Dragon Flight aircraft wore the WW2-era No 112 Sqn, RAF, 'shark mouth' (by permission). Above that on NATIE 211 (although almost invisible here) is an inscription to wartime 112 Sqn, RAF, pilot, Vancouver-born Sqn Ldr Alvin 'Dickey' Acworth, surmounted by his DFC ribbon.

Vanags? - The CT-155 Hawk in Latvian Service

Some of the first graduates of the NATIE programme were four pilots of the Gaisa spēki (the Latvian Air Force). Upon graduation, the first two Latvian pilots collected their country's two Hawks from Gdynia-Oksywie and departed for home. The two Gaisa spēki CT-155s would be home-based at Ventspils Air Base on Latvia's Baltic Sea coast but routinely deployed to Lielvārde AB, Ämari AB in Estonia, and Jyväskylä AB in Finland to train at the Imavoimat's LentoSK FLIT school.

Latvian CT-155s - like the Finnish Hawks they train alongside - are expected to perform operational tasks as well as advanced jet training. To that end, the aircraft have been wired for targetting pods for laser-guided bombs and the Gaisa spēki stockpiles Canadian-supplied CRV7 70 mm ground-attack rocket pods. Air to air AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles are also available.

Image - Top Hawk 115 number 501 of the Gaisa spēki. This Latvian CT-155 is carrying a dummy air training missile (DATM) on its starboard wingtip rail. (Unseen, on the portside rail, would be a Leonardo ACMI pod.) On either wing pylons are adapters for practice bombs.

Latvian CT-155s carry the Latvian Air Force badge on their forward fuselage. Camouflage paint and scheme are the same as that of Finnish Hawks. The white '01' on the fin tip is an individual aircraft identifier used when Latvian Hawks deploy to Finland for operational training.

(To be Continued ...)

____________________________________________

[1] NATIE is just one part of the larger NATO Flight Training Europe (NFTE) programme. As a result, NATO considers the Deblin facility to be an NFTE Training Campus.
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes." - Agent Rogersz

Offline apophenia

  • Perversely enjoys removing backgrounds.
  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2024, 11:04:41 AM »
Eastern Hawks - Former CT-155s in Finland & Ukraine

Among the Hawks assembled at Gdynia-Oksywie were another half-dozen intended for Finland's Ilmavoimat. In part, this donation of ex-CT-155s was a way to repay Helsinki for allowing RCAF pilots to partake in Finnish FLIT activities from Jyväskylä Air Base at Tikkakoski, 240 km north of Helsinki. It was also a way for Canada to help bolster the defensive capabilities of a new NATO ally.

The 'new' Hawk 115s - as they are known in Finland - are based at Kauhava AB in western Finland (400 km NW of Helsinki). Prior to entering service, the ex-CT-155s cycled through Patria's Jämsä Hall facility at Kuorevesi for refits - focused on repainting in harmaa (the Ilmavoimat's drab grey scheme) plus rewiring pylons for ordnance and plumbing for drop tanks. Thereafter, the Hawk 115s were assigned for operational use to HavLLv41 at Jyväskylä AB.

Image - Bottom Ex-CT-155 Hawk 115 of the Ilmavoimat's Tikkakoski Air Force Academy training unit - Fighter Squadron 41. HW-354 show some of its Patria mods - plumbing for twin drop tanks and added 'slime lights' - but is not carrying the centreline 30 mm Aden gun pod.

This Hawk 115 wears the standard keskiharmaa scheme - called 'medium grey' but having a slightly greenish tone under certain lighting conditions. The 'last two' are shown in white at the top of the fin. The yellow '2' is a HavLLv41 individual aircraft identifier.

Yastruby - The Ukrainian Hawks

Ukrainian pilot training in Poland focused on preparing pilots to fly the F-16 in combat. But Kyiv was also aware that the PS ZSU would also need to begin to train replacement fighter pilots. This was done through the NATO Air Training in Europe (NATIE) at Deblin in Poland. From there, most graduate pilots went to Finland for weapons training on Hawks. Other attend the AWTI (Air Weapons Training Installation) at Decimomannu AB on Sardinia (as 'guests' of CAE at the International Flight Training School campus).

Two other former CT-155 Hawks have been transferred directly to the PS ZSU and deployed into Ukraine. These aircraft serve as refresher trainers for Ukrainian pilots on Western aircraft (including the F-16s). Both 'KT-155s' have been refinished in a lo-viz digital camouflage scheme reminiscent of that of their stablemate Aero L-39C Albatros jet trainers. The pair of Ukrainian Hawks are rumoured to serve with the 204 BrTA based at Lutsk AB (UKLC) in western Ukraine, but this is remains unconfirmed by the Ukrainian MoD. [1]

Image - Top Hawk 115 in Ukrainian service. Here, 'syniy 517' carries a Captive Air Training Missile AIM-120A on its centre pylon. This arrangement is somewhat unusual. The CATM is connected to a radar pod on the portside pylon - just visible here - which is normally balanced by a starboard pylon drop tank.

____________________________________________

[1] The basing, at least, seems improbable. Lutsk AB was targeted by airstrikes early during the full-scale Russian invasion. It could be that the base has since been repaired. However, it seems more likely that the PS ZSU Hawks are 'of no fixed address' or are even operating from closed sections of highway in the west.
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes." - Agent Rogersz

Offline GTX_Admin

  • Evil Administrator bent on taking over the Universe!
  • Administrator - Yep, I'm the one to blame for this place.
  • Whiffing Demi-God!
    • Beyond the Sprues
Re: Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2024, 01:33:43 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • You want maple syrup on that Macchi?
Re: Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2024, 05:15:26 AM »
Nice stuff!

Some Civilian options would be interesting. Hand some to Top Aces, for example.

Or maybe NASA takes a couple for testbed or chase plane purposes. I think the Hawk would look quite fetching in the NASA White and blue scheme and the "Whoosh" on the tail.
Pickled Wings, A Blog for Preserved Aircraft:
http://pickledwings.com/

Beyond Prague, Traveling the Rest of the Czech Republic:
http://beyondprague.net/

Offline apophenia

  • Perversely enjoys removing backgrounds.
  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Post-Retirement Employment for the CT-155 Hawk
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2024, 04:39:06 AM »
... Hand some to Top Aces, for example...

Yup. Real World, I'd guess that is exactly what will happen to some of the 16 x flyable CT-155s.
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes." - Agent Rogersz