UPDATE: Hawk T1 fleet grounded following Cornwall crash

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that a British Aerospace (BAe) Hawk T1 jet trainer has crashed during a routine flight from Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in Cornwall.

Hawk T1 [Khalem Chapman]
A BAe Hawk T1A, serial XX256 (c/n CU-846) - operated by the Fleet Air Arm's 736 Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Culdrose - lines up to depart RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire after taking part in the Royal International Air Tattoo in July 2019. Khalem Chapman

The aircraft, which is operated by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm’s 736 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) from RNAS Culdrose, crashed in the St Martins area of Helston, Cornwall, on the morning of March 25.

Taking to Twitter, the MoD’s Press Office (@DefenceHQPress) confirmed that the two pilots that were onboard the aircraft at the time managed to eject successfully. It added that the pilots involved are now being checked by medical personnel and it is understood that they have only suffered minor injuries and not life threatening.

“An investigation will begin in due course. We won’t be providing further detail at this time,” the MoD Press Office added in a tweet following the incident. This attrition comes just days after the UK government revealed plans to accelerate the retirement of the ageing jet trainer to 2025 from its original planned withdrawal date of 2030.

UPDATE - 26/03/2021

In the evening of March 25, the MoD confirmed that the Royal Air Force (RAF) has temporarily grounded its Hawk T1 jet trainer fleet, pending the results of an ongoing investigation into the crash of a Royal Navy example in Cornwall. 

An MoD spokesperson said: "Safety is our paramount concern. The RAF has decided to temporarily pause Hawk T1 operations, as a precautionary measure, while investigations are ongoing. We will continue to review the situation as further information becomes available."

Hawk T1A [MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews]
The Defence Command Paper outlined the UK government's plan to accelerate the retirement of the Royal Air Force's and Fleet Air Arm's fleet of Hawk T1 jet trainers. While the platform was originally planned to remain operational until 2030, new plans will see the type withdrawn from service in 2025. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt 'Matty' Matthews

The grounding order includes all examples of the platform that are operational across the service, including those that are employed by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the Red Arrows, at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. The Hawk T1 is also operated by No 100 Squadron in an 'aggressor' role from RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, as well as being used by the flight test and evaluation unit at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. The aircraft operated by 736 NAS - again in an 'aggressor' role - will also temporarily cease operations.

AirForces Intelligence data states that - as of March 26, 2021 - the RAF maintains a fleet of 56 Hawk T1s, comprising 40 T1As, 13 T1s and three T1Ws. The Fleet Air Arm operates examples of the jet trainer that are on loan from the RAF on a rotational basis, with all examples being employed by 736 NAS.