TYPE: Naval trainer aircraft
HISTORY: The T-45 Training System, or T45TS, is the first totally integrated training system developed for and used by the U.S. Department of the Navy. It includes the Boeing-built T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programs, a computerized training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The integration of all five system elements produces a superior pilot in less time and at lower cost than previous training systems. The T45TS replaced two training aircraft and added advanced simulators to improve the process for training U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots for conversion into the F/A-18A-D Hornet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the AV-8B Harrier II Plus, and the EA-6B Prowler. The T45TS has enabled the U.S. Navy to reduce student flight time by 28 percent and the average training time by 17 weeks for each student pilot.
The Goshawk The two-seat, single-engine T-45 Goshawk is the heart of the training system. The aircraft has a wingspan of 30.8 feet, a length of 39.3 feet, a tail height of 13.5 feet and a takeoff gross weight of 13,636 pounds. The U.S. Navy's T-45 Goshawk is powered by a Rolls-Royce Adour F405-RR-401 engine producing 5,527 pounds of thrust. The Goshawk's design is based on the British Aerospace Hawk. However, design modifications were made to the Goshawk to make the aircraft suitable for carrier-based operations. The modifications include a new slatted wing, strengthened nose and main landing gear, a strengthened airframe and the addition of an arresting hook and catapult launch fittings. The aircraft is designed to excel in the rigorous environment of naval aviation training. It has been fatigue tested successfully to demonstrate a service life well beyond the contractually required design life of 14,400 flight hours.
The T-45A (with an analog cockpit) made its first flight in April 1988 and is fully operational at NAS Kingsville, Tx., where it replaced the T-2C intermediate and TA-4J advanced jet trainers. The latest significant upgrade, the T-45C (with a digital cockpit) made its first flight in October 1997. The delivery of the first T-45C to NAS Meridian, Miss. was celebrated in a ceremony Dec. 15, 1997. The first class of student naval aviators to be trained in the T-45C arrived at NAS Meridian on July 8, 1998, and earned their wings in April 1999.
The T-45C has replaced the older TA-4J advanced trainer at NAS Meridian and completed its replacement of the intermediate trainer, the T-2C Buckeye, in August 2004. T-45s have made more than 32,000 arrested landings aboard aircraft carriers since entering service in 1992, and more than 2,500 new aviators have earned their wings in the T-45. The digital cockpit — which is more representative of current tactical fighter configurations — will enhance the Navy's ability to train pilots destined for sophisticated U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft.
The T-45C uses a 1553 bus and has two multi-function displays in each cockpit; these provide navigation, weapon delivery, aircraft performance and communications data. It also has a global positioning inertial navigation system and a head-up display in the forward cockpit that provides navigation, weapon aiming and status information.
The Totally Integrated System When the T-45 aircraft received its digital cockpit upgrade, the latest technology was incorporated into the integrated ground training system to enhance ground-based student training. For example, student pilots gain basic aviation knowledge and skills in electronic classrooms with state-of-the-art projection systems. They learn about difficult, three-dimensional maneuvering concepts such as strike tactics, weapons delivery and air combat maneuvering, through computer-aided instruction that features sophisticated animation. They then refine their skills in improved high-fidelity simulators. Both the instrument flight trainer and operational flight trainer simulators installed at NAS Meridian are upgraded to include the new digital cockpit, a new instructor operator station, a new host computer and an enhanced visual database system. These upgrades improve student training while reducing overall costs. The instrument flight trainer simulator familiarizes student pilots with the T-45 cockpit, flight instrumentation and aircraft flying qualities. The operational flight trainer simulator has a visual system that presents the student with a computer-generated view of the world outside the cockpit. It is programmed for a wide variety of training maneuvers, including carrier approaches, formation flight, weapons delivery and a variety of weather scenarios.
The T45TS also includes a computerized management system that coordinates activities such as scheduling, student tracking, record keeping and generating reports at the command level. This training integration system networks all elements of the T45TS to make planning and decision-making easier, more flexible and more efficient. The T45TS Program Prime contractor, Boeing, is responsible for the development and integration of the total T45TS. In addition, the company produces the forward fuselage and horizontal stabilators of the aircraft, performs final assembly and production flight test operations, and provides maintenance for all training system elements and integrated logistic support plans. BAE Systems produces the center and aft fuselage and wings, and Raytheon is the principal subcontractor for the simulators. Rolls Royce provides the engine.
Both the T-45A and T-45C have consistently exceeded expectations for availability. As of September 2005, the T-45 fleet logged more than 625,000 flight hours. In March 2004, the program began flight testing a new mission display processor, which incorporates open system architecture and room for future expansion. In April 2005, the program received a contract for the Required Avionics Modernization Program, which will add digital displays and other avionics upgrades to existing T-45A Goshawks. With current demand, the U.S. Navy has been averaging more than 60 hours per month per airframe. The Boeing Company has delivered more than 180 T-45 Goshawks to the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Navy's long-term plan calls for production of 234 Goshawks to support U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps training beyond 2030.