The US Navy hopes to buy the remaining Boeing T-45 Goshawk jet trainers on order under a multi-year procurement that would increase the production rate and reduce the aircraft's cost.

Production is now running at 12 aircraft a year, with some 70 aircraft still to be delivered. The proposed five-year agreement would push production up to 15 a year and result in savings equivalent to "one free aircraft a year", says programme manager Capt Tim Heely.

Boeing, meanwhile, is trying to interest the Navy in continuing production beyond the planned total of 187 aircraft, the last of which is scheduled for delivery in 2005. The current total is sufficient to maintain the T-45 fleet until 2020, Heely says. Keeping the aircraft in service until the end of its airframe life in 2035 would require over 40 additional T-45s, to allow for attrition, but "-there is no money to go higher", he says.

The Navy has just begun to take delivery of improved, "glass cockpit", T-45Cs, with student training to begin in July. Plans call for the original T-45As to be retrofitted to the same standard, starting in 2000, Heely says. Boeing is proposing to develop the cockpit further, adding new display capabilities.

Source: Flight Daily News