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BAe ASTRA Hawk T1 XX341 of the world renowned Empire Test Pilot School arrives at Jet Art

Another unique acquisition opportunity brought to you by Jet Art Aviation Ltd.

XX341 is a one of a kind aircraft known as the Advanced Stability Training and Research Aircraft, ASTRA Hawk for short.  XX341 was one of 3 BAe Hawk T1 aircraft ordered for the Empire Test Pilot School in 1981. This example was the 1st Hawk delivered to the school. 3 years later the aircraft was chosen to be radically modified to become the ASTRA Hawk.

Image courtesy of Rick de Smet, Fairford 2005

Since 1981 the aircraft had been operated by the Empire Test Pilots' School, a British training school for test pilots currently operating at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, England. The school was established in 1943 and is the oldest test pilot school in the world having trained pilots from many countries. The aircraft was originally operated by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) which later became known as QinetiQ in 2001.

In 1986 the modification process had been completed and XX341 was fitted with special avionics and software to mimic the characteristics of a different aircraft or to simulate an adverse flight condition specifically to help train some of the best test pilots in the world.

After the first test flight as ASTRA Hawk, image courtesy of Cranfield Aerospace

ASTRA could demonstrate different aerodynamic parameters to students and allow them to put the theory they were taught at ETPS into practice. Instructors programmed characteristics into the ASTRA flight control system so that they could experience it during flight. A record of the student's responses were kept and replayed afterwards for performance assessment purposes. The training sortie could be configured to make the aircraft more or less stable as determined by the instructor.

From January 1984 to June 1986 the aircraft underwent a modification programme at Cranfield to embody a Variable Stability System (VSS). The system was designed and developed by the Flight Systems and Measurements Laboratories, Cranfield Institute of Technology (CIT) under contract to MOD (PE) D Flying.

ASTRA Hawk in 1988, image courtesy of Cranfield Aerospace

The front cockpit was fitted with force feedback central and side-stick controllers and HUD integral Up-Front Controller. Except for the parking brake, all normal front seat controls have been moved to the rear cockpit. The aircraft has full parameter on-board recording and telemetry. The aircraft was continuously upgraded with cutting edge technology and in her final proposed guise was to be fitted with new colour MFDs, a Hawk 100 specification HUD, Ring Laser Gyro unit, GPS, and a new Computer Symbol Generator.

The ASTRA Hawk spent the majority of her life painted in a resplendent red, white and blue 'Raspberry Ripple' livery which the aircraft wore until 2006. In mid 2006 the paint scheme was changed to the standard overall gloss black RAF training scheme (appropriately known as "jet" black!) which the aircraft wears today exactly as when last flown, complete with the QinetiQ nose markings. This black paint scheme was adopted by the majority of RAF Hawks by 1997 after a study found the colour more visible making them stand out more clearly against the sky.

Image courtesy of Howard J Curtis

It is our vision to return the aircraft to her famous ''Raspberry Ripple'' livery along with Empire Test Pilot School markings exactly as per the in-service photos below. The aircraft has even been made the subject of a limited-edition model from Corgi as part of the highly collectible Aviation Archive range of die-cast model aircraft: An aircraft so infamous that a model was made of her and if you miss out on the real thing you can treat yourself to an exact 1:72 scale model instead.

ASTRA Hawk 1:72 Model

XX341 Background Information:

The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, advanced jet trainer aircraft. It first flew in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk. The Hawk is used by the Royal Air Force, and other air forces, as either a trainer or a low-cost combat aircraft. The Hawk is still in production today with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 customers around the world.

  • Built 1981

  • Construction number: 190/312165

  • Airframe hours: 2871

  • Number of landings: 4631

  • Fuselage FI: 13.891

  • 1st of 3x hawks T1 delivered from manufacturer specifically ordered for ETPS

  • May 1981: Taken on Strength/Charge with the Ministry of Defence with s/n XX341

  • 1982 Transferred to MoD (PE), Empire Test Pilots School, RAE Boscombe Down.

  • 1986 Converted at Cranfield to a Hawk T.1 ASTRA. Advanced Stability Training Aircraft

  • 1987: Transferred to MoD (PE), Institute of Technology, Cranfield

  • July 1988: Transferred to Empire Test Pilots School, RAE Boscombe Down

  • July 1988: Markings Applied: Empire Test Pilots School, 1

  • 2001: Taken on Strength/Charge with the QinetiQ with s/n XX341, transferred to ETPS, Boscombe Down, markings Applied: Empire Test Pilots School, ASTRA, 1

  • 2006: Received overall black paint finish

XX341 is available as an externally complete static display/museum exhibit. The aircraft has been heavily internally spares recovered by her previous owner and as such would make an ideal candidate for pole mounting as a gate guard or for suspension from a ceiling as weight is at a minimum. Having only just arrived in stock, only recently retired and never kept outside this aircraft is in very clean and tidy external condition. Our vision for this aircraft is to restore to her red, white and blue livery along with Empire Test Pilot School markings.

Check out the gallery below to see her current home in the Jet Art stable.

Please contact us is you would like to acquire this aircraft.


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