Cirrus Aircraft will deliver 25 SR20 trainers to the US Air Force academy under a $6.1 million contract to support a revived flight instruction course.
The aircraft, redesignated as T-53As, will be delivered to the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from the third quarter of this year, with the rest to follow through 2012.
The new aircraft will replace a fleet of Cessna 172s - T-41C Mescalaros in USAF colours - that have been in service at the academy since 1968. It briefly cancelled the powered flight course in its curriculum in 2006, but it was revived in 2008.
Two years later, the Air Education and Training Command launched the T-41 replacement programme.
Both images © Cirrus Aircraft
Cirrus will equip the T-53A with the airframe parachute system, airbag seatbelts, integrated fuselage roll cage and the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin avionics suite.
The academy appreciated that students can now deploy the parachute installed on board the SR-20 in the event of an emergency, Lt Col Brad Oliver, of its 557th Flying Training Sqn, said.