Raytheon's T-6A/B Texan II is in service with Canada, Greece and the USA, where it is providing training to both the US Air Force and Navy. Raytheon expects the type to remain in use beyond 2050, with the US armed services currently committed to buying 769 examples, including 454 for the USAF.
The US Navy's current T-6A fleet operates beneath its Boeing T-45A/C Goshawk advanced jet trainers, but the service intends to place all future orders in the type's B model configuration to better prepare students for operating glass cockpit-equipped types such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.
The service will also upgrade its current aircraft to the enhanced standard, which has previously been offered to countries including Australia and the UK without success. The USN still has 264 of its planned 315 T-6s to order. "The A and B model aircraft are 90% common, but the extra 10% permits flexibility to meet future requirements," says Capt Win Everett, the service's programme manager for naval undergraduate training systems. The aircraft's gross take-off weight will be increased and its tail strengthened to deliver a service life of 24 years or 18,700h, he says.
The T-6 programme suffered a blow last month, when the United Arab Emirates eliminated the type from the primary element of its two-tier pilot training competition, cutting its shortlist to the Alenia Aermacchi M-311, Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano and Pilatus PC-21. The T-6 has also been ruled out from a basic trainer project in Turkey.
Raytheon also offers a wide range of its multi-engine aircraft for use as trainers, including the King Air 200 already operated by armed services including the UK Royal Air Force.
Source: Flight International