T-6 Texan II

T-6 Texan II

The Beechcraft T-6 Texan II is a single-engine turboprop aircraft built by the Raytheon Aircraft Company (which became Hawker Beechcraft and later Beechcraft Defense Company, and was bought by Textron Aviation in 2014).

First deliveries of the aircraft were made in 1998 with the initial operating capability being achieved by the US Air Force in October 2001 and the US Navy in August 2003.

Additional contracts for 26 aircraft were received for the Nato Flying Training Canada (NFTC) programme and 45 aircraft for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) of Greece primary flying training programme.

The T-6A military trainer has been very thoroughly tested and qualified, having been through Joint FAA certification and military developmental testing, operational testing, and functional and physical configuration audits.

HBC has been delivering aircraft since 1998 and the total fleet size now numbers over 500 aircraft in operation at six US locations, as well as NFTC at CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; and with the HAF at Kalamata Air Base, Greece. HBC has entered long-term manufacturing commitments in US Government sales for 800 airplanes, with associated training equipment, through 2017. Logistic support plans for these aircraft extend beyond 2040.

T-6A Texan II international orders

In June 2008, Israel requested the foreign military sale (FMS) of 20 T-6A trainers, the contract for which was awarded in August 2009. HBC delivered the first four ofthese in July 2009.

“The T-6A military trainer has been very thoroughly tested and qualified.”

In December 2008, Iraq requested the sale of 20 T-6A trainers to replace the current fleet of Cessna 172 Skyhawks and Cessna 208 Caravans. The Iraqi Air Force awarded HBC with a contract for eight T-6A trainers in August 2009; a second contract for seven more was award in September 2009, bringing the total to 15.

The first four T-6A trainers were delivered to Iraqi Air Force in December 2009. Another four were delivered in February 2010, and three more in in September 2010.

In May 2009, the US Air Force awarded a $123.7m firm fixed price contract for 20 T-6A trainer aircraft, training devices and technical publications. It ordered seven more T-6A aircraft in October 2009.

The T-6 avionics upgrade aircraft, a derivative of the T-6A trainer, is being developed by HBC. The aircraft, named T-6B has completed its inaugural flight in July 2009 and will be deployed by the US Navy as the primary aircraft for flight training. HBC received FAA certification for the T-6B in September 2009.

T-6 Texan II training aircraft design

Safety was the number one priority in the T-6 aircraft design.

The T-6A provides performance and handling characteristics that will safely lead the student from ab-initio through primary and well into advanced training curricula. HBC wing and empennage designs have given the T-6A flying qualities that remain consistent throughout the flight envelope.

Stall strips ensure benign power-on and power-idle stalls; spins have excellent characteristics with slow, steady spin rates and simple, consistent, quick recoveries; and engine power provides for continuous aerobatic manoeuvres up through 22,000ft.

The Ground-Based Training System (GBTS) provides multiple levels of fidelity and flexibility that can be customised for any training programme.

Cockpit

“Safety was the number one priority in the T-6 aircraft design.”

Access to the cockpit is through the side-opening, single piece canopy and windscreen. The canopy and windscreen are tested to withstand the impact of a 1.25kg (4lb) bird without penetration throughout the flight envelope. Seating is in a stepped tandem configuration.

The pressurised cockpit is equipped with sunlight readable Smiths Aerospace multifunction active matrix liquid crystal displays.

The aircraft has a through the canopy ejection system with a Martin Baker Mark US16LA zero/zero ejection seat. When the pilot pulls the ejection handle, they will always eject; if the redundant canopy fracturing system fails, they will eject through the canopy without injury. Safety is enhanced by a titanium firewall, and by no penetration of fuel or hydraulic lines into the pressure vessel.

Trim aid device

A high-powered, single-engine turboprop aircraft normally requires extensive rudder control by the pilot. In order to reduce the need for rudder control on the T-6A, the Trim Aid Device was developed and patented by Raytheon Aircraft.

The device reduces the need for excessive rudder trim by balancing the trim requirements, using the aircraft’s pitch rate, air speed, altitude and engine setting to set the rudder trim tab position even in aerobatic manoeuvres.

PT6A-68 turboprop engine

The aircraft uses a Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop engine which provides a flat rated 1,100hp. The range of the aircraft is more than 1,667km.

The powerplant provides an initial climb rate in excess of 3,300ft/min and the aircraft climbs to 18,000ft in under 6mins. The maximum cruise speed of the aircraft is 500km/h and the altitude ceiling 9,500m. The aircraft demonstrates sustained turn performance of 2g at an altitude of 22,000ft.

Power management unit

The aircraft is equipped with the Power Management Unit (PMU), a highly advanced digital electronic engine control unit. The PMU, developed by Raytheon and Pratt and Whitney Canada, sets the engine power in response to the setting of the pilot’s power control lever and to the ambient pressure and temperature.

“The powerplant provides an initial climb rate in excess of 3,300ft/min.”

The control functions of the power management unit make it impossible for a trainee pilot to over-torque the engine. The power management unit recognises the conditions which could potentially result in flameout (cessation of combustion in the engine) and automatically provides ignition in the event of sudden decreases in speed or in the interstage turbine temperature.

The Propeller Interface Unit (PIU) is an electro-mechanical control unit mounted to the engine reduction gearbox, which provides a propeller speed signal to the PMU and responds to speed control signals from the PMU. The PIU provides overspeed protection via a mechanical overspeed governor.

Weapons training

One of the requirements of the programme for the Hellenic Air Force was to integrate basic air-to-ground weapons training capability into a portion of their fleet. HBC engineers conducted a full weapons integration and test programme. In conjunction and cooperation with the US Air Force Seek Eagle office, a full safe separation weapons qualification programme was conducted at Eglin AFB, Florida.

The aircraft has six underwing hard points, three on each side for carrying air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons systems. The centre station on each side is ‘wet’ for external fuel tanks.

In addition to the six under-wing stores stations, the FN Herstal weapons control system and Avimo gunsight increase the capability of the T-6 as a weapons trainer.

Maintenance

“Hawker Beechcraft Corporation designed the T-6A for durability, reliability and sustained performance.”

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation designed the T-6A for durability, reliability and sustained performance. The aircraft has a guaranteed airframe life of over 18,000 hours.

A number of features have been incorporated for ease of maintenance and to reduce the cost of operation. Avionics boxes are mounted one deep in large aft fuselage bays.

Fuel servicing tasks can be completed in less than five minutes through one access door and the filter can be inspected while the aircraft is being refuelled. The onboard oxygen-generating system (OBOGS) allows continuous operations without routine servicing. There is no programmed intermediate or depot maintenance.

Variants

  • Model 3000: Company designation.
  • T-6A Texan II: Standard version for the USAF, USN, and Hellenic Air Force (25).
  • T-6A NTA Texan II: Armed version of the T-6A for the HAF (20). T-6A NTA has the capability to carry rocket pods, gun pods, external fuel tanks, and bombs.
  • T-6B Texan II: Upgraded version of the T-6A with a digital glass cockpit that includes a Head-Up Display (HUD), six multi-function displays (MFD) and Hands on Throttle And Stick (HOTAS), used at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and United States Naval Test Pilot School.
  • AT-6B Wolverine: Armed version of the T-6B for primary weapons training or light attack roles. It has the same digital cockpit, but upgraded to include datalink and integrated electro-optical sensors along with several weapons configurations. Engine power is increased to 1,600 shp (1193 kW) with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-68D engine, and the structure is reinforced.
  • T-6C Texan II: Upgraded version of the T-6B with wing hard points, primarily designated for export sales.
  • T-6D Texan II: Version based on T-6B and C for the US Army for operational support, testing, utility, and chase plane roles.
  • CT-156 Harvard II: Version of the T-6A for NFTC with the Canadian Forces. Nearly identical to standard USAF and USN in terms of avionics, cockpit layout, and performance.

Specifications

Crew  2
Length 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)
Wingspan 33 ft 5 in (10.19 m)
Height 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
Wing area 177.5 sq ft (16.49 m2)
Empty weight 4,707 lb (2,135 kg)
Gross weight
6,300 lb (2,858 kg)
Max take off weight 6,500 lb (2,948 kg)
Power plant (Dry thrust)
1 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop, 1,100 shp (820 kW)
Power plant (Thrust with afterburner) 
 
Maximum speed (Sea level)
Maximum speed (High altitude) 364 mph (586 km/h, 316 kn)
Combat radius
Ferry range
1,000 mi (1,700 km, 900 nmi)
Service ceiling
31,000 ft (9,400 m)
Rate of climb
Wing loading
Thrust/weight
Design load factor +7g -3.5g

Operators

  • Argentine Air Force – 12 T-6C+ on order, six delivered as of June 2018.
  • Royal Canadian Air Force – 24 CT-156 Harvard IIs for pilot training.
  • Hellenic Air Force – 45 T-6A.
  • Iraqi Air Force.
  • Israeli Air Force – 20 T-6A.
  • Mexican Air Force – 6 T-6C+ delivered in 2012. A follow-on order for 6 more planes was made, due for delivery in late 2013.
  • Royal Moroccan Air Force – 24 T-6Cs in service as of January 2012.
  • Royal New Zealand Air Force – 11 Aircraft.
  • Royal Thai Air Force – 12 T-6TH. Delivery scheduled for 2022-2023.
  • Royal Air Force – 10 T-6A.
  • United States
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