Author Topic: Hawker Hunter Mk 58 GAH/IAI "Mighty Hunter" upgrade  (Read 959 times)

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Offline cataphractarius

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Hawker Hunter Mk 58 GAH/IAI "Mighty Hunter" upgrade
« on: November 06, 2014, 02:31:38 pm »

Early in 2001 the DRS AF succeeded in reactivating a small number of its F-5 aircraft, which caused considerable concern with CUSTARD high command. Up to that point, CUSTARD forces had relied on legacy platforms for both the air-to-air and air-to-ground role. These had proved adequate against DRS helicopter and transport assets, but were seriously outclassed by the F-5 fighter. Therefore CUSTARD high command sought access to an aircraft of comparable capabilities. Eventually, in a shady deal involving several middlemen CUSTARD acquired nine Hawker Hunter Mk 58s at the end of the year. The aircraft, which came from Swiss AF stocks, provided initial experience with operating jet aircraft, but it was soon obvious that, while being more capable than the legacy platforms, they did not have the capability edge CUSTARD high command had been after. As however the Hunter proved to easy to maintain and fairly inexpensive to operate, it was eventually decided to initiate an upgrade program. The "Mighty Hunter"-program was run by CUSTARD's main arms manufacturer, Glenan Agricultural Hardware in close cooperation with Israeli Aircraft Industries. Between 2006 and 2008, seven single-seat and one twin-seat aircraft were upgraded to the "Mighty Hunter" standard which included the fitting of a new fire control radar, glass cockpit, helmet-mounted sight and the intergration of Python 4 AAMs; the ninth aircraft is used as a ground instructional airframe. In the new "Mighty Hunter" configuration, the CUSTARD has a fighter aircraft significantly more capable than the DRS AF's F-5.

In a 2011 interview with a major aeronautical periodical, Squadron leader Seamus McFinley, commanding officer of 101 Squadron "Angry Dodos" gave rare insights into a program that has produced what to date is probably the most capable Hunter ever produced. Squadron leader McFinley: "The decision to proceed from our legacy platform to the Hunter was not lightly taken. We had gained considerable experience in operating our aircraft, and our support services were geared to running a late 1940s piston engined aircraft. Switching to a significantly more advanced jet meant not only integrating a new aircraft, but also relearning much on the operational side. However, with the Mighty Hunter, we can safely say that is was definitely worth it! The Mighty Hunter is a great platform, excelling both in the air superiority and in the air-to-ground role. While I cannot, of course, discuss operational details, I can say that we usually use about half of our aircraft in the air-to-air role, with the other half employed in the air-to-ground role. The Python 4 coupled with the EL/M-2032 radar and our helmet mounted sight gives us a significant edge over probably every other third world country, while in the air-to-ground role the four 30mm guns together with gun or rocket pods and other pieces of ordnance provide a powerful punch. We still operate some of our legacy platforms in a air-to-ground role, but the Mighty Hunter is considerably more capable, not the least so because we have the capability to operate Maverick AGMs as well."

The Mighty Hunter has seen combat several times in recent years, though apparently always in the air-to-ground role, where it apparently proved to be quite effective. It is not known whether GAH/IAI plan to offer the upgrade to other third world countries; Lebanon, which also operate the Hunter, would be an obvious customer, but with a fairly large number of airworthy Hunters still around, a GAH/IAI Mighty Hunter might pose an attractive option for any county with moderate means planning to operate jet aircraft.

Modelling the Mighty Hunter in 1/72 scale

Well, there is no kit of the Mighty Hunter available - guess why... :)

Probably the best kit in 1/72 is the Revell offering. As far as I understand it's currently unavailable, and would in any case be fairly expensive, at least when compared to the Plastyk offering - which I found on offer for GBP 2.88! Bargain!! So off I went and got me a couple of these, which are in the post right now. As far as I understand these are old Frog molds, offering decent accuracy (it looks like a Hunter), so they should do, as I'm building these for wargaming purposes. The general plan is to build one each in air-to-air and in air-to-ground configuration with wheels up, and perhaps a third one wheels down as eye candy for various scenarios - let's see whether I get this done by christmas ... 2016. :)

So far, nothing but the background. First pictures come when I have the kits in hand.
The most dangerous thing in the combat zone is an officer with a map.