The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, advanced jet trainer aircraft. It was first flown at Dunsfold, Surrey in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk, and subsequently produced by its successor companies, British Aerospace and BAE Systems, respectively. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft.
Operators of the Hawk include the Royal Air Force (notably the Red Arrows aerial display team) as well a considerable number of foreign military operators. The Hawk is still in production in the UK and under license in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 customers around the world.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. The RAF has taken a significant role in British military history, playing a large part in the Second World War as well as in more recent conflicts.
As of January 2012827 aircraft, making it the largest air force in the European Union, and the second largest in terms of aircraft in NATO (after the USAF). Most of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations (principally Afghanistan) or at long-established overseas bases (Ascension Island, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands). Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the British Army's Army Air Corps also deliver air power which is integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.
the Royal Air Force has a reported strength of approximately