The U.S. Air Force is considering an avionics replacement program for the fleet of 442 Beechcraft [TXT] T-6A Texan trainers, as the latter face parts obsolescence and safety of flight issues.
The single-engine, two-seat primary trainer teaches basic flying skills to prospective Air Force and U.S. Navy pilots at Columbus AFB, Miss.; Laughlin AFB, Joint Base-San Antonio, and Sheppard AFB in Texas; Vance AFB, Okla.; and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.
The Air Force said that obsolesence will significantly reduce the availability of the F-6As for flight by 2026.
The T-6A has been “GPS non-compliant since 2009,” according to a slide from an Air Force T-6A industry briefing in March on the possible avionics replacement program. The aircraft’s KLN-900 Navigation System is not compliant with area navigation (RNAV) 1 operations which limit flight path deviations, and the plane may not execute RNAV standard instrument departures, obstacle departure procedures, and standard terminal arrival routes.
The aircraft also may only execute RNAV instrument approach procedures during the day under favorable weather conditions.
In the past, T-6A pilots have reported a relatively high rate of physiological events (PEs) compared to pilots of other Air Force aircraft (Defense Daily, Sept. 13, 2021). PEs per 100,000 flight hours for the F-15E spanned a low of about three in fiscal 2010 to a high of more than 26 in fiscal 2012, while rates for the T-6A ranged from a low of nearly three in fiscal 2014 to more than 53 in fiscal 2018, per a DoD Inspector General report last August.
Air Force Physiological Episode Action Team officials told the DoD IG that “because the T‑6A Texan II is the first aircraft flown by Air Force aircrew, the nerves of the aircrew could be a factor in the increase of reported PEs,” per the report.
After receiving 87 hours of flight training in the T-6A and 47 simulator hours, prospective Air Force mobility and tanker pilots move to the T-1A Jayhawk, while fighter/bomber hopefuls move to the T-38C Talon, and helicopter training pilots move to the TH-1H.
The Boeing [BA] T-7A Red Hawk is to replace the T-38C.