A GUEST POST FROM ANDY C
In my recent series on the Options facing the UK Government in the SDSR 2015 one of the points that created the most debate was about the replacement and future role of the Hawk.
Now it seems even the Commanding Officer of 736 Naval Air Squadron is joining in!
The current edition of Armed Forces Monthly contains a major article on the work of this squadron and an interview with its CO Lt Cdr Tim Flatman.
One of the issues covered is the future replacement of the units Hawk T1 aircraft which have an out of service date of 2020. Lt Cdr Flatman indicates that one possibility for replacement is the Hawk T2 already in service with IV Squadron but another would be to acquire some secondhand F-16 Fighting Falcons.
The F-16 is still an impressive fighter aircraft and would be far more suited to the aggressor training role performed by both 736 NAS and 100 Squadron than the subsonic Hawk. It would also make a far more capable secondary air defence fighter to supplement the Typhoon. Altogether these two units would need about 30 aircraft.
Buying secondhand F-16s from Denmark could save the MoD money and secure a valuable export order for the Typhoon.
Coincidentally Denmark is currently running a fighter competition to replace its 30 F-16s and one of the contenders is the Typhoon.
It would clearly help the chances of winning this valuable order if the UK Government were to express an interest in buying their current aircraft.
The first batch of Hawk T2s cost £18 million each.
If the Danish F-16s are still in reasonable condition we could offer up to a half or a third of this amount for each of them. That would be a powerful incentive for the Danish Government to buy the Typhoon while getting the MoD a far more capable aggressor training aircraft at a fraction of the cost.
Timing would also work in favour of such a deal. The Danes have indicated that they want to make a decision in 2015 and replace all of their aircraft by 2020. This would match our timing of an SDSR in 2015 and the Hawk T1 out of service date of 2020.
Another positive aspect to getting secondhand F-16s is there will be no shortage of spare parts as a large number of countries dispose of these aircraft over the next 10-15 years.