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The Hawker Hunter is the most successful post-war British fighter jet with 1,972 aircraft produced for 22 nations. The Hunter first flew in 1951 and is still in front line service 72 years later with the Zimbabwe Air Force. Originally developed as a highly manoeuvrable day jet interceptor by Sir Sydney Camm who also designed the Hawker Hurricane of Battle of Britain fame, the prototype broke the world air speed record on 7th September 1953 and has been used by a number of international display teams the world over including the RAF Black Arrows and Blue Diamonds but is perhaps most famous for being flown by the Patrouille Suisse until 1994. Many retired Hunters have made their way into civilian life either as private warbirds or operated by military contractors as threat simulators.
Hawker Hunter Aviation (HHA) operate a fleet of retired Hawker Hunters including ten ex-Swiss Mk.58's and an ex-Chilean Air Force T.72 two seat example. Originally based at RAF Scampton, and now at RAF Leeming, HHA provide their aircraft on military contracts to the RAF and other NATO partners to act as threat simulators or as trials support aircraft. In addition to the Hunter fleet, HHA also own a pair of F-4F Phantoms, a Su-22 Fitter and a Buccaneer which are also available for contract if necessary.
This year, HHA will be sending one of their ex-Swiss Air Force Hunter Mk.58s to appear on static display at RIAT 2023. The Swiss Mk.58 was developed to include a potent air to ground capability utilising the AGM-65 Maverick air to ground missile and was retired from service in 1994. The aircraft flown by HHA have been upgraded with modern glass cockpits, radar warning receivers and can carry electronic warfare pods to support its military contract duties. Photo Credit: Peter Yarrow