RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT has been selected to develop and deliver the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) for the US Air Force and Navy. The company's Beech MkII turboprop trainer, a variant of the Swiss Pilatus PC-9, has been selected to meet a requirement for up to 711 primary trainers, 372 to replace USAF Cessna T-37Bs and 339 to replace USN Beech T-34Cs.

Darleen Druyun, acting USAF acquisition chief, says: "When you look at all the data collected, and make an overall assessment, I believe very clearly that Beech had its competitors beat. In my opinion, it was a competitive source selection, but Beech clearly came out on top."

Raytheon will build the complete Beech MkII airframe in Wichita, Kansas. Changes include an up-rated engine, birdstrike-proof canopy, zero-zero ejection seats, "glass" cockpit and single-point refueling.

The MkII is powered by a 1,270kW (1,710shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop de-rated to 930kW. Avionics are supplied by AlliedSignal and the seats by Martin-Baker. Beech Aircraft Services will provide contractor logistic support.

The JPATS is scheduled to enter the manufacturing-development phase following approval by the Defense Acquisition Board in early August. Protests from losing firms could delay the programme by as much as five months, however. Also competing for the contract were the Cessna JPATS CitationJet, Lockheed Martin T-Bird II, Northrop Grumman S.211A and Super Tucano and Rockwell Ranger 2000.

Production is planned to begin in November with the USAF and USN receiving their first operational aircraft in 1999 and 2002, respectively. The final aircraft would be delivered in 2017. The first JPATS aircraft off the production line is scheduled to be flown, in December 1998. The programme was stretched to 20 years from 12 years early this year, to cut short-term expenses. Raytheon can expect to earn $7 billion over the life of the programme.

Source: Flight International