In a recent handover ceremony in Kauhava, Patria delivered the first of a series of modified, ultramodern twin-seat Hawk Mk 66 aircraft to the Finnish Air Force. Working closely with the Finnish Air Force, Patria has assumed responsibility for the specification, design and implementation of all system integration for the modernisation project, which will span three years.
In 2007, the Finnish Air Force purchased 18 pre-owned Hawk Mk66s from Switzerland. These supplemented the Hawk Mk 51/51A fleet purchased earlier. In 2009, this was followed up by an order placed with Patria, for an extensive cockpit and avionics upgrade of the aircraft. The upgrade includes the replacement of all important avionics devices and cockpit display systems by new digital IT systems. The design is based on the upgrade already implemented on MK 51/51A aircraft. Under the current programme, Patria is also responsible for developing software for the aircraft’s mainframe, the Mission Computer.
This year, Patria will deliver six modified aircraft to the FiAF, to be followed by eight more aircraft next year. According to the plan, all 18 aircraft will be modernized and delivered during the course of 2013.
Patria has special expertise in aviation
Upgrades require extremely extensive expertise, ranging from in-depth knowledge of avionics to understanding of software development processes. Patria has assembled the bulk of the Finnish Mk 51 aircraft; it has been maintaining and servicing Hawks since 1980, when the Finnish Air Force brought the aircraft into service. In addition, during this period Patria has carried out large-scale maintenance operations and modifications of the aircraft.
“During the course of the project, Patria has amassed considerable expertise in aviation. The potential of the Patria software competence will ensure that Hawk training aircraft can be developed domestically far into the future and thus meeting future needs in flight training. An important factor in the project’s success lay in seamless cooperation with the Finnish Air Force,” stresses Lassi Matikainen, President of Patria Aviation.
High-quality pilot training with modern aircraft
Following the upgrades, the Mk 66 aircrafts’ avionics systems will incorporate the full range of features required for modern flight training. ”The Hawks’ training efficiency will be improved and, instead of the Hornet interceptors currently used, the Hawk fleet will be deployable for a number of training modules, but at more affordable operating costs,” explains Matikainen.
The new, upgraded aircraft will further increase the Kauhava-based Training Air Wing’s capacity to provide high-quality fighter training for both Finnish pilots and foreign customers.