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T-45 Goshawk - History

Selected as the basis for the airplane portion of the Navy's VTXTS jet training system, the British Aerospace Hawk is well established as the Royal Air Force's (RAF) principal jet trainer, and has also found a similar niche with other countries' air forces. One of several multipurpose trainer/light ground attack aircraft developed in various European countries during the seventies, it was found adaptable to the U.S. Navy's training role, including carrier operations, with a minimum of aerodynamic modification -- a tribute to the excellent characteristics of the basic design.

The Hawk's beginnings go back to the late sixties when Hawker Siddeley (one of the predecessor companies of today's British Aerospace) began design studies for a prospective new RAF jet trainer suitable for basic/advanced training and also for strike/weapon delivery mission type training. The RAF settled on its final requirements in 1970 and Hawker Siddeley's final HS-1182 design proposal was the winner of the subsequent competition. In the spring of 1972, development and a total of 176 airplanes were ordered.

The first Hawk made its initial flight on 21 August 1974, flying at that year's Farnborough show in early September. Subsequent aircraft joined the flight development program which resulted in minor modifications--enlargement of the ventral fins being one of the more obvious changes -- by the time the Hawk T.1s went into RAF training squadron service in late 1976. Assignment to the tactical weapons unit followed in 1978.

Meanwhile, one extra Hawk had been registered for company use as G-Hawk, while the Mk 50 series export Hawk found customers in various parts of the world. Finland was the first foreign purchaser, with plans for production there. Active NavAir interest in the Hawk as one candidate for possible replacement of T-2s and TA-4s in the Training Command began in 1977 as part of a general study of what could be accomplished through various alternatives, including new development as well as derivatives of the newly-developed European advanced jet trainers.

In 1978, the US Navy initiated the VTXTS Advanced Trainer program to replace the existing T-2 Buckeye and TA-4 Skyhawk advanced jet trainers. Industry responses to the Navy request for proposals (RFP) included several existing and new aircraft configurations. A team from McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace proposed both a modification of the existing British Hawk land-based configuration and a new trainer. The VTX contract was awarded to the McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace team in November 1981. The Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) T-45 Goshawk evolved from the Hawk design. With this proposal selected as the winner, another British Aerospace design has found its place in Naval Aviation alongside the already well-known Harrier.

McDonnell and British Aerospace collaborated on significant modifications to make the basic Hawk design aircraft carrier suitable as the T-45A. The U.S. Navy ordered more than 125 T-45A Goshawks, intending to use them to replace the TA-4J Skyhawk in the Advanced Jet Training program and the T-2 Buckeye in the Intermediate Jet Pilot Training program. The Navy chose “Goshawk” as the name for the T-45A in 1985. The name originally was assigned to the Curtiss F11C, a U.S. Navy fighter aircraft in 1932.

The aft fuselage and wings of the Goshawk were built by British Aerospace in the United Kingdom; McDonnell Douglas assembled the forward fuselage at its Long Beach, Calif., plant and performed final assembly and production testing in Palmdale, Calif. Final assembly of the first production model of the Goshawk began in December 1988 in Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale. In 1989, McDonnell Douglas moved production of the T-45 program to its St. Louis, Mo., facility.

The T-45C, with a digital cockpit to train pilots destined for the F/A-18 Hornet, the AV-8B Harrier II and other carrier-based aircraft, made its first flight in October 1997. It had two multifunction displays in each cockpit; the displays provided navigation, weapon delivery, aircraft performance and communication data.

The FY2007 budget request included $376.4 million in Aircraft Procurement, Navy (APN) for the procurement of 12 T-45TS Goshawk training aircraft for the Navy. The future-years defense program indicates that the Navy intends to stop production with the fiscal year 2007 procurement. This would yield a total of 223 aircraft. The Navy's request for 12 T-45TS Goshawk training aircraft was nearly twice the number of aircraft requested in previous years. Moreover, the Chief of Naval Operations' unfunded priorities list included an additional six aircraft.

The Navy's longstanding requirement was for 234 aircraft. Since that determination, significant changes had occurred in the annual training requirements for pilots, and empirical data has replaced planning assumptions. Training requirements had grown rather than diminished. Moreover, the Navy's "T-45 Strategic Planning Study, 2003-2035," identified 239 trainers as the minimum number of aircraft needed to adequately support long-term pilot training requirements. For budgetary reasons, the requirement was reduced twice even as additional PTR requirements were added.

Boeing delivered the 221st and final T-45 training jet to the Navy in November 2009. The company continued to support the T-45 fleet by providing engineering, logistics and support equipment in partnership with BAE Systems, the successor company to British Aerospace, which had supplied the aircraft’s rear and center fuselage sections, wing assembly and vertical tail.

On Aug. 26, 2010, Boeing joined the U.S. Navy at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fla., to celebrate the Naval Air Training Command’s one millionth flight-hour with the T-45 Goshawk. The Goshawk had become a component of the fully integrated T-45 training system, which also included high-fidelity instrument and flight simulators, computer-assisted classroom learning, an automated training-management asset and contractor logistics support.

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Page last modified: 09-04-2017 18:58:27 ZULU