T-6A JPATS [Texan II / Harvard II]
The Beechcraft [formerly Hawker Beechcraft, formerly Raytheon Aircraft Company, formerly Beechcraft] T-6A Joint Primary Air Training System (JPATS) turboprop was designed as a dedicated training aircraft possessing jet-like handling characteristics. The T-6 military trainer offers military operators worldwide a proven and cost-effective primary aviation training system . Deliveries began in 2000 after the Beechcraft aircraft was selected to fill the JPATS role for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. Since then, additional military customers worldwide have selected the T-6, including NATO Flying Training Canada, the Hellenic Air Force of Greece, the Israeli Air Force, the Iraqi Air Force, the Royal Moroccan Air Force and the Mexican Air Force. Beechcraft delivered its 800th T-6 trainer aircraft in March 2013, continuing its strong track record of on-time, on-budget deliveries.
In addition to accommodating instruction in flying basics, instrument flight procedures and acrobatic maneuvers, the T-6 delivers a world-class training capability that is versatile and flexible enough for teaching introductory flight training tasks, yet sophisticated enough to enable the more challenging and complex advanced training missions that could previously be accomplished only in far more expensive jet aircraft.
T-6 models include the original JPATS-winning T-6A, the Navy’s T-6B and a third variant called the T-6C. The T-6B and C are advanced versions of the T-6A with updated cockpit avionics. In order to replicate today’s high-tech frontline aircraft, the new cockpit includes a Heads-Up Display (HUD), Up-Front Control Panel (UFCP), three-color Multi-function Displays (MFD) and Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS). The integrated glass cockpit and a state-of-the-art avionics suite greatly expands its capabilities, enabling the advanced systems and information management skills training required in current and future military aircraft. The T-6C variant maintains avionics similarity with the T-6B while incorporating a hard-point wing to allow carriage of external fuel tanks, weapons and other stores.
Replacing the Air Force's T-37 and the Navy's T-34C aircraft, which were at the time 37 and 22 years old, respectively, the T-6A offered better performance and significant improvements in training effectiveness, safety, cockpit accommodations and operational capabilities. Seven hundred and forty T-6A aircraft were to be purchased by the United States Air Force and the United States Navy. The Air Force and Navy transition to the T-6A was expected to take approximately 10 years. The Air Force would steadily replace T-37s with T-6s at all Air Education and Training Command joint specialized undergraduate pilot training bases.
The T-6A Texan II is named after the classic T-6 Texan trainer used by the Navy and Air Force in the 1940s and 1950s. The T-6A would support a variety of joint flight-training programs, including joint primary pilot training for entry-level aviation students. It would provide the skills necessary for pilots to progress to one of five training tracks: a bomber/fighter track (T-38); a strike track (T-45); an airlift/tanker track (T-1A); a maritime track (T-44); or a helicopter track. It also would support joint navigator and naval flight officer training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Also slated for use in companion trainer programs for Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command, the T-6A may support Euro-NATO joint jet-pilot training administered by the Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas.
The T-6A Texan II offers better performance and significant improvements in training effectiveness, safety, cockpit accommodations and operational capabilities than present aircraft. The T6-A TEXAN II is a single-engine, stepped tandem, two-seat primary trainer aircraft. Its Pratt Whitney PT6A-68 engine is flat rated at 1,100 shaft HP. The PT6A-68 engine and the T6-A TEXAN II aerodynamic characteristics result in exceptional performance. Its excellent thrust-to-weight ratio provides an initial rate of climb of more than 4,500 fpm and outstanding short field capability with a takeoff distance of only 1,775 feet at sea level. Its superior aerobatic performance is demonstrated by the aircrafts ability to perform a constant altitude 2g turn at 25,000 feet. The T-6A combines features typical of a primary trainer with the very low fuel consumption and overall economy of a turboprop, while simultanesously providing 50 percent more overall thrust than its predecessor. The T6-A TEXAN II performance is unmatched.
The T6-A TEXAN II cockpit is entered through a side-opening, one-piece canopy/windscreen that has demonstrated resistance to bird strikes at speeds up to 270 knots. The pressurized cockpit features an advanced avionics package with sunlight-readable, active-matrix liquid crystal displays. It features a stepped-tandem, cockpit configuration, with the instructor's rear seat raised slightly to improve visibility from the rear cockpit; modern avionics; and improved egress systems. Both T-6A cockpits are covered by a single, side-opening, non-jettisoned canopy. The T-6A offered increased birdstrike protection over previous training aircraft, and would improve the safety of landing and low-level training at Air Force and Navy bases. The pressurized cockpit permits training at higher, less-congested altitudes and reduce the stress on student pilots. The aircraft is equipped with an onboard oxygen-generating system that reduces the time needed to service the aircraft between flights.
The T-6A is equipped with a through-the-canopy, zero-zero ejection seat, a significant improvement from the seats in the T-37. But the minimum recommended ejection altitude has not changed since the days of rudimentary egress systems-it's still 2000 feet AGL. This minimum recommended ejection altitude purposely does not take into account the advances in ejection seat technology and the better than "zero-zero" capabilities of today's egress systems. That's because 2000 feet gives pilots adequate time to perform all of the required post-ejection actions and steer away from ground hazards, particularly the aircraft impact fireball. By delaying ejection, pilots greatly increase the chances of sustaining significant (or fatal) injuries. The "zero-zero" capability of seats was not designed, and is not intended, to allow pilots to get closer to the ground prior to ejecting-it was designed to permit ejection during all stages of takeoff or landing, something that the old systems could not do.
Through-the-canopy ejection systems, like that found on the T-6A, involve an explosive charge fracturing the transparency prior to the pilot ejecting. The necessary explosion occurs very close to the pilot, i.e., less than a foot away. Some shrapnel and molten metal is going to be sprayed inside the cockpit. Common sense and self-preservation dictate that the pilots try to cover every possible piece of skin prior to ejecting. Pilots should leave themselves enough time to be fully prepared to leave the aircraft at the minimal ejection altitude. While the T6-A is a good aircraft and a sig-nificant advancement in technology for USAF flight trainers, it does have only one engine. Engine failures would occur, and pilots would eject. The seat is extremely capable, but delaying ejection would reduce or remove any existing safety margin.
The T-6A's tricycle-type landing-gear is hydraulically retracted through electric controls and is equipped with both differential brakes and nosewheel steering. The aircraft is fitted with electrically controlled, hydraulically operated, split flaps, used for takeoff and landing. It also has a single, ventral-plate, speed brake located between the flaps. All flight controls are manually activated, with electrically activated trim controls. The presence of an automatic rudder trim aid device results in a more balanced flight control environment. Flight controls and avionics can be operated from both cockpits. For single-pilot operations, the pilot would fly in the front cockpit. A low-wing, training aircraft approved for night and day Visual Flight Range (VFR) and Instrument Flight Range (IFR) flight, the T-6A Texan II has a cockpit designed to accommodate the widest possible range of pilots, both male and female, and would open flying careers to the largest possible pool of qualified applicants.
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