British company Aeralis is set to strike a deal to develop new Red Arrows aircraft

Aeralis deal Red Arrows aircraft
Aeralis concept for new RAF Red Arrows aircraft.

British aircraft manufacturer Aeralis appears to be close to winning a contract to develop a replacement for RAF Red Arrows' Hawk T1 jet.

The Hawk T1 two-seater trainer aircraft was expected to remain in service with the Red Arrows until 2030, however, concerns over the aircraft's safety forced senior RAF personnel to proceed with the type replacement. The first Hawks joined the RAF fleet in the mid-1970s.

Aeralis is expected to supply twelve aircraft to the team, three of which will be spare.

"The Red Arrows promote British industry and the plane needs to be made in the UK. Aeralis will design, develop and deliver the Hawk T1 replacement.

"Though officially the order date is being played down, given that it will take at least 5 years or longer before the plane is in operational service, there's an acute awareness that the decision has to be made soon.

"An announcement is pending and will be made before Christmas," an RAF source told the Daily Express.

That statement comes a few months after Aeralis received £ 200,000 from the RAF to develop a "modular" two-seater aircraft that will be available in basic, advanced or aggressive variant as needed.

The three variants can be obtained by mounting different engines and wings on the same fuselage, allowing the RAF to rationalize the fleet.

Aeralis deal Red Arrows aircraft

According to Aeralis, the change between versions can take place within a normal 24-48 hour maintenance cycle and the first version will be ready in about three years.

Future versions of the plane could include a "fuel tanker" that could be used to refuel swarms of small drones.

The company also said it could also develop a version with much longer wings suitable for carrying out surveillance missions or an unmanned version for use as an attack drone.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: Aeralis

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