Pilots and engineers of 16 air forces around the world will meet in the last week of March to attend the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) User Group conference to be held in Bangalore.
Guy Griffiths, International Group Managing Director of BAE Systems, told StratPost at Aero India 2013, “We have a group called the Hawk User Group that brings together all the customers worldwide of the Hawk and they meet to compare their experience of operating the aircraft. The next meeting of that group will be in March and in Bangalore.”
While this is the first time the conference is being held in India, the venue is only appropriate, considering the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy will, together, constitute the largest operator of the aircraft in the world, once the deliveries for the two orders for 56 and 22 aircraft are completed. While the delivery of a 2004 IAF order for 66 Hawk aircraft was completed earlier, a second order for 57 aircraft, with the first 17 going to the Indian Navy, is currently under production. A third batch of 20 aircraft will also be produced by HAL which will outfit the IAF’s Surya Kiran aerobatics team.
Griffiths said, “That sort of sends a signal that it is the Indian Air Force and navy who actually are the dominant customer. It means that customers like the Indian government will have a very big say and a very big influence on the future development and growth part of the Hawk platform. So the biggest customer will have a very strong say.”
HAL Chairman RK Tyagi said on Wednesday, the public sector unit would be delivering five aircraft produced under license from BAE Systems, ahead of schedule this year.
Countries operating the Hawk include the UK, the USA, Australia and Saudi Arabia. Oman will be the latest entrant to the list of operators. The last conference was held in San Diego.