CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Australia's Hawk 127 jet trainers have reached the milestone of 75,000 flying hours, the Australian Department of Defense said.
The two-seat Hawk was manufactured by BAE Systems and is used primarily to prepare aircrew for the front-line fighters F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18F Super Hornet and – when it arrives -- the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
"The remarkable achievement is testament to the commitment and dedication of all those involved -- maintenance crews, engineers, aircrew and our partners from industry," the Defense Department said.
Australia ordered 33 of the low-wing all-metal Hawk 127 jets in 1997, 12 of which were made the United Kingdom and 21 in Australia.
The aircraft have been operational since 2001 and are used by No. 76 Squadron at Williamtown, near Newcastle in the east, and No. 79 Squadron at Pearce, near Perth, on the west coast.
The aircraft uses a single Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 871 engine, made by Rolls-Royce in the United Kingdom and Turbomeca in France. The Adour is a turbofan engine developed for the Anglo-French SEPECAT Jaguar fighter-bomber in the 1960s.
Hawk 127 armaments include Mk 82 bombs from General Dynamics, AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles and a 30mm revolver cannon from Aden -- the Armament Development Establishment in Enfield, United Kingdom.
Since July 27, Australia's air force has been participating in the multinational Exercise Pitch Black 12, the air force's "largest and most complex air exercise," taking place in the Northern Territory until Aug. 17.
Participants include the U.S. Marine Corps and air forces from Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Australia also is set for a single air traffic control network, the Department of Defense's procurement agency, the Defense Materiel Organization said.
The DMO has reached an agreement with the government-owned Airservices, which manages civilian air traffic control, to set up a single ATC network for military and commercial aircraft.
Australia manages air traffic with two separate systems, one run by the military and the other run by civilian controllers, the DMO said.
The Operating Level Agreement will allow the start of the procurement for a single ATC system just as the systems from both organizations are approaching their end-of-life.
"Both parties have approached the market for the acquisition and support of ATM systems and services," the DMO said.
Air Commodore Mike Walkington, of the DMO, said the agreement provides arrangements for acquisition and sustainment. It also follows an industry request for information in 2010 and a supplier briefing in late 2011.