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T-6 Texan II

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T-6 Texan II
A USAF T-6A Texan II out of Randolph Air Force Base
Type Trainer aircraft
Manufacturer Raytheon Aircraft Company/Hawker Beechcraft
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
Canadian Forces
Greek Air Force
Developed from Pilatus PC-9

The T-6A Texan II is a single-engined turboprop aircraft built by the Raytheon Aircraft Company (now Hawker Beechcraft). It used by the United States Air Force for basic pilot training and by the United States Navy for Primary and Intermediate Joint Naval Flight Officer (NFO) and Air Force Navigator / Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) training. It is replacing the Air Force's T-37B Tweet and the Navy's T-34C Turbo Mentor. The T-6A is also used as a basic trainer by the Canadian Forces (CT-156 Harvard II) and the Greek Air Force.


The T-6 is a version of the Pilatus PC-9, modified by Beechcraft in order to enter the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) competition in the 1990s. The aircraft was designated under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system named for the decades earlier T-6 Texan. A similar arrangement between Pilatus and British Aerospace had also been in place for an RAF competition in the 1980s, although this competition selection the Shorts Tucano. The Beechcraft brand has since been purchased from Raytheon by Onex Corporation as Hawker Beechcraft.

The Texan II is built by Raytheon Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas. Although the design is heavily based on the Pilatus PC-9, the T-6 is a complete redesign from the ground up, and is considerably more sophisticated and powerful. The power/weight ratio of the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 Turboprop make it an ideal tool for training fast jet pilots at half the price of an actual jet trainer.

The T-6A was introduced to Moody Air Force Base and Randolph Air Force Base in 2000-2001, and the Air Force awarded the full rate T-6 production contract in December 2001.Laughlin Air Force Base began flying the T-6 in 2003 where it is now the primary basic trainer, having completely replaced the venerable T-37. Vance Air Force Base completed transitioning from the T-37 to the T-6 in 2006, the same year Columbus Air Force Base began its transition. The T-6 is expected to replace all T-37s in the Air Force inventory by 2008. T-37s are still in service at Columbus and Sheppard Air Force bases.

The T-6A also replaced all T-34s at Naval Air Station Pensacola in early 2005. T-34s are still in service at NAS Corpus Christi and NAS Whiting Field as a primary trainer.

The T-6A has been met with great approval by instructors and students alike, who praise its reliability and simplicity. With thrust output of over 2,000 pounds at sea level and the quick power response time afforded by a turboprop, it is very forgiving.

One Texan II costs approximately 6 million dollars. Almost a quarter of this cost goes into two advanced, highly reliable Martin-Baker ejection seats, which have the capability for zero-zero ejection.

The T-6B variant of the Texan II was introduced in 2005. One of the most important features of the T-6B is its highly advanced, all-glass cockpit from CMC Electronics that includes a Head-Up Display (HUD), six Multi-function display (MFD) and Hands On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS).

Both the Greek T-6A and the T-6B variants have the capability to carry and deploy munitions, including bombs, rockets, and wing-mountable guns. The T-6B also features additional onboard systems for combat training. The T-6B could be a versatile primary weapons trainer, or even an operational light attack aircraft, given its excellent handling characteristics and available excess thrust. According to Raytheon, the T-6B is now available for order, although a price has not been specified and no customers have been listed yet. As of 2006, there are speculations within the Air Force that Special Operations Command may consider procuring T-6B aircraft for use in airborne forward air control.

CT-156 Harvard II

The CT-156 Harvard II is a variant used for pilot instruction in the NFTC (NATO Flying Training in Canada) located at 15 Wing, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. They are leased to the Canadian Forces (Air Command, formerly known as the Royal Canadian Air Force) by the program's administrator, Bombardier. Cockpit layout, ejection protocols, and performance mimic the widely-praised BAE Hawk Jet Trainer. All pilots in the NFTC program train for 95 hours on the CT-156 Harvard II before moving on to the Helicopter, Multi-Engine, or Fast Jet threads of the CF Air Command. Those pilots selected for Fast Jets train for another 40+ hours on the Harvard II before moving on to the Hawk, and finally the CF-118 (CF-18 Hornet). For this training, the NFTC has 24 Harvard II aircraft owned and maintained by Bombardier, but all instruction is given by CF.

Specifications (T-6A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2, tandem seating
  • Length: 33 ft 4 in (10.2 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 5 in (10.2 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 8 in (3.3 m)
  • Empty weight: 4,600 lb (2,087 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 6,500 lb (2,900 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop, 1,100 SHP (820 kW)
  • Propeller: Hartzell 4-bladed variable pitch constant-speed propeller at 2,000 rpm) Performance

    Additional systems

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