Military trainers review: Boeing

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BOEING 

Boeing's T-45 Goshawk - an extensive development of the BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainer - is increasingly appearing on the export stage, with the US manufacturer now pursuing active opportunities with the Greek and Israeli air forces and the Indian navy.

The US Navy has pledged to continue development of the Goshawk until 2035, and will use the latest T-45C model to train its future pilots for the single-seat Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The service has amassed over 700,000 flight hours and over 50,000 arrested landings with the type since the T-45A entered service in 1992, and currently flies 70,000h a year with its expanding fleet.

30 years service

Each T-45 is expected to have a service life of 30 years at 600h a year, or a maximum airframe life of 21,600h. Individual USN aircraft have flown up to seven sorties a day, and the service's fleet leader now has over 7,350h logged. The navy is to upgrade its analogue cockpit T-45As to the glass cockpit-standard C configuration, and is looking for a new helmet with off-boresight capability to support JSF training. High bandwidth datalinks and a radar emulator are also sought, along with an upgrade to extend the hot-section life of the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour engine.

The T-45 is used to provide fast-jet pilot training to the US Navy and Marine Corps, and to perform carrier qualification work for navy pilots of Northrop Grumman C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery and E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft. The US Air Force is also starting to use the aircraft for some navigator training.

Some 34 Indian navy pilots are currently undergoing instruction on carrier operations using the T-45 in the USA ahead of the introduction to service of India's new aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and RSK MiG-29K carrierborne fighters.

Other nations with students in the USA flying the T-45 include Brazil, France, Italy and Spain, says Cecilia Perez, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' T-45 business development manager.

Boeing has also provided technical information on the T-45 to Greece, which could issue a request for proposals from next month to replace its Rockwell T-2 Buckeyes. The company notes that Athens' use of both the T-45 and the Raytheon T-6 Texan II would provide high commonality with the USN. The T-45 is also viewed as a possible replacement for the Israeli air force's McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, although the service has delayed a contest to allow an Israel Aerospace Industries-led military development of the Aviation Technologies Group Javelin very light jet to compete.

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