The RAF will retire its entire fleet of 76 Hawk T1 trainers but the Red Arrows are saved by sponsorship deals

Only 28 Hawk aircraft will be left in British service, the T2 variant.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) plans to retire its entire fleet of 76 Hawk T1 trainer aircraft, leaving only 28 Hawk aircraft in British service, the T2 variant, the UK Defence Journal reports.

The ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘, the Defence Command Paper released on Mar. 22, 2021, states: “The Royal Air Force will retire equipment that has increasingly limited utility in the digital and future operating environment. This will include rationalising older fleets to improve efficiency, retiring Typhoon Tranche 1 by 2025, and Hawk T1. We will enhance the new military flying training system with further investment in synthetic training that will deliver more capable pilots more quickly and more efficiently.”

No. 100 Squadron flies Hawk T1 jets in the aggressor role and the RAF Aerobatic Team Red Arrows uses the T1 as display aircraft. However, according to the Express, the famous aerobatic team have been saved from the axe in a defence review to be published in the week commencing Mar. 22.

“Though Ministry of Defence insiders have confirmed that the iconic team will not be felled next week, RAF sources insisted its days were numbered unless other streams of financial support could be found urgently. The Red Arrows has arranged a raft of sponsorship deals with some blue-chip brands, ranging from BAE, Barbour and Breitling to Land Rover and Rolls Royce, worth just under a million pounds in total.”

In normal times the Red Arrows would perform around 25 shows a year charging £10,000-30,000 for thirty-minute daredevil spectaculars, which is paid directly to the MoD. It also helps to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

In 2019 the Red Arrows, which boasts 11 pilots and more than 100 engineers and support crew, undertook a triumphant 11-week tour of the US and Canada – its biggest ever – and is seen as a pillar for Brand GB and recruitment.

Moreover, as we have already anticipated last week, the RAF will also retire its C-130 Fleet by 2023. The ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, says:

“The Royal Air Force will retire the BAe146 as planned by 2022 and take the C-130 Hercules out of service by 2023. The A400M Atlas force will increase its capacity and capability, operating alongside C-17 Globemaster and Voyager transport aircraft and tankers.”

According to insiders, major decisions will include cutting the number of Boeing E-7 Wedgetail surveillance aircraft from five to three and axing the purchase of 90 F-35 fighter jets to leave just 48 while the RAF focuses on developing the new Tempest.

Boris Johnson previously described this defence review as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War.

Photo credit: Cpl Andy Benson / Crown Copyright

For more interesting news and info about RAF Red Arrows check out Aerobatic Display Teams website

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 No. 29(R) Squadron, ZK308 / TP-V – 2014
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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