British Aerospace Hawk 65A (8817) from the Royal Saudi Air Force "Saudi Hawks" at the KeeBee Spottersday 2017, Kleine-Brogel (Belgium)
The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. It was first flown at Dunsfold, Surrey, in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk, and subsequently produced by its successor companies, British Aerospace and BAE Systems, respectively. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. Operators of the Hawk include the Royal Air Force (notably the Red Arrows display team) and a considerable number of foreign military operators. The Hawk is still in production in the UK and under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 operators around the world. The Hawk 65 is the Export version for the Royal Saudi Air Force. 30 ordered as part of Al Yamamah I arms deal in February 1986 with deliveries from August 1987 to October 1988. Additional 20 Hawk 65A were sold to Saudi Arabia as part of a follow-on order, to an improved standard, and delivered 1997.
The Saudi Hawks are a BAE Hawk-equipped Royal Saudi Air Force aerobatic team. On 6 June 1998, at King Abdulaziz Air Base (Dhahran),
No. 88 Squadron was created by Gen. Abdulaziz Henaidy, the Royal Saudi Air Force's chief of staff, who is backed by Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz (Minister of Defense and Aviation). The squadron is known as the "Saudi Hawks Aerobatic Team" Flying BAE Hawk Mk.65 and 65A jet trainers, it is the Royal Saudi Air Force's (RSAF) official demonstration team. The Hawks debuted in January 1999 at Riyadh, the Saudi kingdom's capital, as part of Saudi Arabia's 100th anniversary celebrations. Six smoke-capable BAE Hawk Mk.65A and three Mk.65s-all modified by BAE Systems are assigned to the team and now wear the team's striking green and white demonstration colours. In February 2000, the Hawks first appeared outside their homeland-in Bahrain, flying out of Dhahran. Soon afterward, the team and the various RSAF Hawk squadrons moved to King Faisal Air Base (Tabuk) in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The team draws comparison with the RAF Red Arrows due to the similar aircraft. There are tangible links as ex-Red Arrows personnel have been involved in training the team.