TYPE: Advanced jet trainer.
PROGRAMME: Carrier-capable version of BAE Systems Hawk selected 18 November 1981 (from five other candidates) as winner of US Navy VTXTS (now T45TS) competition for undergraduate jet pilot trainer to replace T-2C Buckeye and TA-4J Skyhawk; original plan was for initial 54 'dry' (land-based) T-45Bs followed by 253 carrier-capable 'wet' T-45As; B model eliminated in FY84 in favour of 300 (and then 302) T-45As; FSD phase began October 1984; construction of two prototypes by Douglas began February 1986; funding approved 16 May 1986 for first three production lots. Lot 1 production contract (12 aircraft) awarded 26 January 1988; FSD prototypes made first flights 16 April (162787) and November 1988 (162788); original planned date for first deliveries (October 1989) delayed by further airframe and power plant changes requested by US Navy.
Announced 19 December 1989 that entire T45TS programme to be transferred to McDonnell Aircraft Co at St Louis; modified FSD prototypes made first flights September and October 1990; two Douglas production aircraft (163599 and '600) delivered to NATC Patuxent River, Maryland, on 10 October and 15 November 1990; first carrier landing (162787 on USS John F Kennedy) 4 December 1991; first McAir production aircraft (163601) flew at St Louis 16 December 1991 and handed over to USN 23 January 1992. Production one per month in 1995 following successful passing of US DoD Milestone III review on 17 January 1995 authorising full-rate production.
Digital/'glass cockpit' developed as 'Cockpit 21'; first to this standard (37th aircraft, 163635) made first flight 19 March 1994; planned production line introduction at 73rd aircraft, to be delivered October 1996, was delayed; flight trials of prototype aboard USS John C Stennis conducted April to May 1996 and successfully completed with 30 May approval for 'Cockpit 21' installation from 84th aircraft (165080), which first flew on 21 October 1997 and formally rolled-out on 31 October. Earlier aircraft to be retrofitted with 'Cockpit 21' from FY03, following a validation conversion of 163651 in 1998.
Beginning in 2000, all T-45s fitted with modified engine air intakes during routine servicing at NAS Kingsville; new intake has the top 'lip' extended forward, giving a raked profile, improving engine airflow at high angles of attack and reducing number of surges and compressor stalls.
CURRENT VERSIONS: T-45A: Baseline version, with analogue instruments.
T-45C: Digital ('Cockpit 21') avionics version with new computer, digital databus, data transfer cartridge and Litton GINA (GPS/INS assembly); first aircraft 165080; otherwise as T-45A; sole external difference is GPS antenna on spine of T-45C, immediately behind canopy.
CUSTOMERS: US Navy; two FSD prototypes and 187 production aircraft currently envisaged, of which 173 funded up to FY02. Final delivery of FY00 was 127th production aircraft; 139th delivered to US Navy in October 2001 and 150th on 8 August 2002. Long-term requirement is for 234 aircraft to sustain training up to 2035. Complete T45TS programme also involves 19 flight simulators (built by Hughes Training inc); 48 computer-aided instructional devices, one training integration system mainframe, six electronic classrooms, 155 terminals, plus academic materials and contractor-operated logistic support. USN T45TS requirement stipulated 42 per cent size reduction in (TA-4 and T-2) training fleet, 25 per cent fewer flight hours, and 46 per cent fewer personnel.
Four training squadrons (VT) to equip: VT-21 and VT-22 of Training Wing 2 at Kingsville, Texas, in 1992-96; VT-9 and VT-23 (which redesignated VT-7 on 1 October 1999) of TW-1 at Meridian, Mississippi, 1997-2003. TW-2 assigned early aircraft; TW-1 receiving 90 'Cockpit 21' Goshawks (first official handover to VT-23 15 December 1997, aircraft having been received on 10 December). TW-2 will convert to the T-45C as its aircraft are retrofitted. Small number of T-45s wear 'Marines' titles to refleet the proportion (about 13 per cent) of USMC student pilots being trained on the type.
VT-21 operational 27 June 1992 for instructor training; four-aircraft operational evaluation begun by VT-21 on 18 October 1993 for one month first phase; student training begun 4 January 1994; first student flight 11 February 1994; first solo 23 March 1994; deployed to Miramar for deck landing course on aircraft carrier, September 1994; course graduated 5 October 1994. Second phase of operational evaluation (advanced tactics/weapons and carrier qualification) on USS Dwight D Eisenhower ended with clearance for fleet introduction being recommended on 5 July 1994. Primary sea platform is training carrier USS John F Kennedy. VT-23 (now VT-7) of TW-1 began student training on 8 July 1998; VT-9 equips in 2003. T-45 syllabus is 119 sorties (156 hours) plus 100 simulator sessions (95.4 hours).
In April 2000, 1,000th student graduated from T45TS course; fleet passed 200,000 hours in March 1999. By May 2001, T-45s had flown 342,000 hours, made 22,000 deck landings and trained 1,328 pilots; first aircraft exceeded 5,000 hours in April 2001. Fleet passed 450,000 hours and 28,500 carrier landings in February 2003, by which time 155 T-45s in service and 1,800 students graduated. Individual utilisation is 630 hours per year; more than 1,600 pilots trained by August 2002.
COSTS: Original US$316 million for 12 aircraft in FY96 procurement augmented by US$6,830.421 for addition of 'Cockpit 21' modifications. Official unit cost US$17.2 million (1999); FY02 contract for six aircraft valued at US$96.7 million.
DESIGN FEATURES: Carrier-capable adaptation of existing trainer design for cost and risk reduction. Generally as for two-seat BAE Systems Hawk Srs 60, but redesigned (including deeper and longer forward fuselage) and strengthened to accommodate new landing gear and withstand carrier operation (incidentally increasing fatigue life to 14,400 flying hours, although 28,800 hours achieved on static testing airframe); twin airbrakes of composites material; fin height increased by 15.2 cm (6 in) and single ventral fin added; rudder modified; tailplane span increasing by 10.2 cm (4 in); wingtips squared off; nose tow launch bar added; underfuselage arrester hook, deployable 20° to each side of longitudinal axis. No provision for gun or outboard underwing hardpoints.
FLYING CONTROLS: Differences from two-seat BAE Systems Hawk include electrically actuated/hydraulically operated full-span wing leading-edge slats (operation limited to landing configuration); aileron/rudder interconnect; two fuselage-side airbrakes instead of one under fuselage and associated autotrim system for horizontal stabiliser when brakes deployed; BAE Systems yaw damper computer and addition of 'smurf' (side-mounted unit root fin), a small curved surface forward of each tailplane leading-edge root, to eliminate pitch-down during low-speed manoeuvres; Dowty actuators for slats and airbrakes.
STRUCTURE: BAE Systems (principal subcontractor) builds wings, centre and rear fuselage, fin, tailplane, windscreen, canopy and flying controls. Intended fatigue life of 14,000 hours. Batch of 54 composites tailplanes being built by Boeing for retrofit to extant T-45s.
LANDING GEAR: Wide-track hydraulically retractable tricycle type, stressed for vertical velocities of 7.28 m (23.9 ft)/s. Single wheel and long-stroke oleo (increased from 33 cm; 13 in of standard Hawk to 63.5 cm; 25 in) on each main unit; twin-wheel steerable nose unit with 40.6 cm (16 in) stroke. Articulated main gear, by AP Precision Hydraulics, is of levered suspension (trailing arm) type with a folding side-stay. Cleveland Pneumatic nose gear, with Sterer digital dual-gain steering system (high gain for carrier deck operations). Nose gear has catapult launch bar and holdback devices. Main units retract inward into wing, forward of front spar; nose unit retracts forward. All wheel doors sequenced to close after gear lowering; inboard mainwheel doors bulged to accommodate larger trailing arm and tyres. Gear emergency lowering by free-fall. Goodrich wheels, tyres and brakes. Mainwheel tyres size 24x7.7-10 (20 ply) tubeless; nosewheels have size 19x5.25-10 (12 ply) tubeless tyres. Tyre pressure (all units) 22.40 bar (325 lb/sq in) for carrier operation; reduced for land operation. Hydraulic multidisc mainwheel brakes with Dunlop adaptive anti-skid system.
POWER PLANT: One 26.00 kN (5.845 lb st) nominal rating Rolls-Royce Turbomeca F405-RR-401 (navalised Adour Mk 871) non-afterburning turbofan; installed rating 24.59 kN (5.527 lb st). Air intakes and engine starting as described for BAE Systems Hawk. Fuel system similar to BAE Systems Hawk, but with revision for carrier operation. Total internal capacity of 1,635 litres (432 US gallons; 360 Imp gallons). Provision for carrying one 591 litre (156 US gallon; 130 Imp gallon) drop tank on each underwing pylon.
ACCOMMODATION: Similar to BAE Systems Hawk, except that ejection seats are of Martin-Baker Mk 14 NACES (Navy aircrew common ejection seat) zero/zero rocket-assisted type.
SYSTEMS: Air conditioning and pressurisation systems, using engine bleed air. Duplicated hydraulic systems, each 207 bar (3,000 lb/sq in), for actuation of control jacks, slats, flaps, airbrakes, landing gear, arrester hook and anti-skid wheel brakes. No.1 system has flow rate of 36.4 litres (9.6 US gallons; 8.0 Imp gallons)/min. No.2 system a rate of 22.7 litres (6.0 US gallons; 5.0 Imp gallons)/min. Reservoirs nitrogen pressurised at 2.75 to 5.50 bar (40 to 80 lb/sq in). Hydraulic accumulator for emergency operation of wheel brakes. Pop-up Dowty Aerospace ram air turbine in upper rear fuselage provides emergency hydraulic power for flying controls in event of engine or No.2 pump failure. No pneumatic system. DC electrical power from single brushless generator with two static inverters to provide AC power and two batteries for standby power. Onboard oxygen generating system (OBOGS).
AVIONICS: Avionics and cockpit displays optimised for carrier-compatibile operations.
Comms: Rockwell Collins AN/ARN-182 UHF/VHF, Honeywell APX-100 IFF.
Flight: AN/ARN-144 VOR/ILS by Rockwell Collins, Honeywell AN/APN-194 radio altimeter, Sierra AN/ARN-136A Tacan, BAE Systems yaw damper computer. Digital avionics aircraft (No.84 onwards) have revised navigation package comprising mission data input device (MDID); Litton LN-100G ring laser gyro and Rockwell Collins five-channel GPS linked by 12-state Kalman filter.
Instrumentation: US Navy AN/USN-2 standard attitude and heading reference system (SAHRS), Smiths Industries Mini-HUD (front cockpit), Racal Acoustics avionics management system, and Teledyne caution/warning system. Digital avionics from 84th production aircraft onwards: two 127 x 127 mm (5 x 5 in) Elbit monochrome multifunction screens in both cockpits, MIL-STD-1553B databus and Smiths HUD.
Mission: Electrodynamics airborne data recorder.
ARMAMENT: No built-in armament, but weapons delivery capability for advanced training is incorporated. Single pylon under each wing for carriage of practice multiple bomb rack, rocket pods or auxiliary fuel tank. Provision for carrying single stores pod on fuselage centreline. CAI Industries weapon-aiming sight in rear cockpit.