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XX159's service history

XX159 was built by Hawker-Siddeley and was test flown from its airfield at Dunsfold on 17th June 1975. It was later delivered to the Aircraft Armament & Experimental Establishment (AA&EE) at Boscombe Down, where it was employed on trials and development work on the Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawk programme.
It was four years before the airframe actually entered service with the RAF, which took place on 5th January 1979 following a thorough airframe overhaul by Hawker-Siddeley. XX159 was first issued to No 1 Tactical Weapons Unit (1TWU) at RAF Brawdy. Painted in wraparound camouflage, with the last three digits of its serial number applied on the fin, XX159 was utilised on training duties for the next five years. During early-1984, the aeroplane was modified by British Aerospace (BAe), to enabling the platform to carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and be employed in an air defence role in times of natural crisis. Following this work, XX159 was officially reclassified a Hawk T.1A and was returned to Brawdy, to join its component Squadron (Sqn) RAF 234(R) on 30th July.

During the spring of 1987, XX159 was selected to be one of two airframes allocated to the RAF solo Hawk display pilot. A smart yellow 'ribbon' was applied on the airframe, extending from nose to tail over the platform's existing air defence grey colour scheme, and it became a regular visitor to airshows across the UK.
It returned to normal TWU duties at the climax of the season, and remained in service until 1TWU was disbanded in August 1992.

During October 1992, XX159 was issued to the newly reformed RAF 74(R) Sqn at Valley. Attached to No.4 Flying Training School (4FTS), the Unit was responsible for providing weapon instruction, and XX159 was given the fleet identity 'TO' for this purpose. Its time with the Unit was short-lived however, as just 12 months later the airframe had been moved onto the strength of the Central Flying School (CFS) detachment at RAF Valley. It was re-issued to its 3rd Unit in 3 years when it joined RAF 19(R) Sqn as aeroplane 'PA' during 1994.

Following a period of store at RAF Shawbury, XX159 was returned to 4FTS at Valley in late 1998 to join RAF 208(R) Sqn, the component squadron responsible for providing advanced flying training. Now finished in the standard gloss black colour scheme for RAF training aeroplanes, XX159 was taken out of service in 2001 and sent to RAF St Athan for modifications, and once serviceable it returned to Valley to recommence training duties with 208(R) Sqn.
Prior to the 2004 airshow season, XX159 was again chosen as an official Hawk display airframe, and was painted in a special scheme celebrating 30 years of the Hawk. At the end of the season it was sent to RAF St Athan for a major overhaul, returning to RAF Valley during mid-2005.
The airframe was back in display 'clothes' for the 2006 airshow season in another special scheme, this time celebrating 1,000,000 UK Hawk flying hours!
All special markings were removed at the end of the year, as it was returned to standard training livery.

XX159's FRADU career

XX159 was transferred to the Royal Navy on loan to the RAF in the summer of 2007, and it was flown to RNAS Culdrose to join the Fleet Requirements & Air Direction Unit (FRADU). It remained based with the Unit for the next six years, which included being one of seven Hawk airframes painted with Fly Navy 100 anniversary markings on its spine and tail fin during March 2009. This period also included spells based at RNAS Yeovilton with Navy Flying Standards Flight (Fixed Wing) - NFSF(FW), where FRADU permanently detached any two of its airframes.

During June 2013, XX159 became part of the newly reformed 736 Naval Air Squadron (736NAS) fleet at RNAS Culdrose, as it took over the responsibility of fulfilling the taskings associated with FRADU since 1972, alongside its new role within the Fleet Air Arm.

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Post FRADU career

The airframe continued in service at Culdrose until July 2018, when it was ferried to RAF Shawbury for long-term storage, where it remains today.

- December 2020

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