Riat17 Finland Midnighthawks Michael Hind 3 1

British Aerospace Hawk Mk.51 (x4)

The British designed and built BAE Systems Hawk is one of the world’s most successful advanced jet trainers. Originally designed by Hawker Siddeley, the Hawk first flew 50 years ago in 1974 and entered service with the RAF in 1976 to replace the Folland Gnat T.1; enjoying superb export success having being procured in various guises by 19 nations. Whilst the original Hawk is no longer used by the RAF other than by the Red Arrows, the heavily updated Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer is currently operated by 4 and 25 Squadrons at RAF Valley as the Hawk T.2 where they are used to train the next generation of fighter pilot. Since 2008 the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer has also been licence built in India and flown by the Indian Air Force display team, the Surya Kiran.

The Finnish Air Force were one of the first export customers of the original BAe Hawk and have operated the type as the Hawk Mk.51 since 1980 as their advanced jet trainer and flown by their national display team – the Midnight Hawks. The Mk.51 also has the capability to be used as a light fighter or ground attack aircraft if necessary. In 2007, the Finnish Air Force acquired a number of retired Hawk Mk.66s from the Swiss Air Force to supplement their fleet. During 2011, all remaining Finnish Hawks were upgraded with a modern glass cockpit.

With the exception of the RAF Red Arrows, the Finnish Air Force are the final operator of the original Hawk in Europe. We are therefore pleased to announce that the Finnish Air Force, one of the newest members of NATO, will be sending the Midnight Hawks to display at RIAT 2024 in support of our celebration of the organisations 75th anniversary.

Photo Credit: Michael Hind

On display

Role Friday Saturday Sunday
Flying Not decided Yes Yes