Red Arrows Hawk TMk1 XX177 at RAF Scampton, the plane involved in the death of RAF Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham

Everything You Need To Know About The Red Arrows Hawk Jet

The advanced training jet has been serving the RAF display team for more than 40 years...

Red Arrows Hawk TMk1 XX177 at RAF Scampton, the plane involved in the death of RAF Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team flew as the Red Arrows for the first time in 1965 after the RAF decided to merge its various display teams into one unit.

The Red Arrows are an icon of both the RAF and Britain as a whole and is undoubtedly one of the world's leading aerobatics team. 

The aerobatic team originally consisted of seven pilots flying Folland Gnat T1 jets until that famous diamond formation was increased to nine in 1968 with the addition of two new pilots and planes.

But in 1980, the Gnat was replaced with their current aircraft, the BAE Systems Hawk.

Red Arrows Hawk jets

The Hawk T1 is a two-seater jet used for advanced pilot training.

The Red Arrows version of the aircraft is powered by a single Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 861 turbofan which produces 5700lb of thrust.

This enables the Hawk to travel at an impressive maximum speed of 645 mph.

Whilst diving, the Hawk can reach a top speed of Mach 1.2.

Aside from its paint scheme the Red Arrows Hawk has little difference when compared to the T MK1.

However, each aircraft carries a ventral 318Itr tank containing diesel oil as well as red and blue dye, which is divided into separate compartments.

On selection, these fluids are pumped into three jet pipe nozzles where the hot temperature produces the smoke.

The Red Arrow Hawk jet:

  • Wingspan: 9.39 m
  • Length: 11.85 m
  • Height: 4.00 m
  • Maximum speed at sea level: 645 mph (1037 km/h)
  • Maximum altitude: 48,000 ft (15894 m)
  • Empty weight: 8,000 Ibs (3628 kg)
  • Max weight: 18,390 Ibs (8330 kg)
  • Engine: one Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 151
  • Thrust: 5,200 Ibs (2359 kg)
Red Arrows cockpit formation

Despite making its debut more than 40 years ago, upgraded versions of the Hawk have continued to dominated international markets as a fast jet trainer and light combat fighter.

The Hawk is also used by the RAF’s 100 Squadron in an aggressor role where it simulates enemy forces to provide training for front-line units.

It is expected to remain in RAF service until 2030.