TYPE: Basic turboprop trainer.
PROGRAMME: US version of Pilatus PC-9 Advanced Turbo Trainer. For participation in USAF/USN Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) competition, Beech and Pilatus reached agreement on joint approach in August 1990; Beech received two standard PC-9s from Pilatus, one of which (N26BA) converted as engineering development prototype and completed more than 260 hours' flight testing to reduce programme risk and develop engineering design baseline before return to Pilatus. Followed by two Beech-built production prototypes (Beech designation PD373; later, Beech 3000), first flights December 1992 (N8284M/PT-2) and July 1993 (N209BA/PT-3); PT-2 used to complete flight test programme and evaluate systems performance; PT-3 incorporated several improvements and was principal aircraft for USAF/USN flight evaluation; one prototype and four production aircraft completed more than 1,400 hours of flight testing to achieve FAA certification on 30 July 1999. Promotional name for the purposes of competition was Beech Mk II.
Selection as JPATS winner announced 22 June 1995; total requirement for 782 aircraft (454 USAF, 328 US Navy) by 2017; all to be built in USA; contract valued at US$4.7 billion awarded February 1996; allocated designation T-6 Texan II (in advance of T-4 and T-5) to honour North American AT-6 Texan of Second World War era; Canadian name reflects British Commonwealth name for AT-6.
First metal cut February 1997; roll-out of manufacturing development aircraft (N23262/95-3000/PT-4) 29 June 1998; first flight 15 July 1998; first delivery (95-3003/PT-7) to Randolph AFB, June 1999, for technical evaluation; further two were to have followed in third quarter of 1999 for six month multiservice operational test and evaluation programme (by first two Lot-3 aircraft), but were delayed by engineering fault with PT6 engine. First handover was 95-3004 on 1 March 2000; first squadron of 12th FTW, the 559th FTS, began equipping on 23 May 2000.
Initial production rate 12 aircraft per year, rising to maximum of 59 by 2004; Milestone III authorisation to proceed with full-rate production granted by USAF on 3 December 2001. Early aircraft to 12th FTW at Randolph AFB for instructor training; IOC with USAF at Moody AFB, Georgia, in June 2001, with student pilot training beginning on 10 October; all USAF units to be fully equipped by 2011. First two aircraft for US Navy formally accepted at Wichita factory 31 August 2002; delivered to Pensacola, Florida, on 1 November 2002 and assigned to VT-10; IOC with Navy in 2003. FlightSafety selected on 21 April 1997 to provide associated ground training system at cost over 24 years of US$500 million.
CURRENT VERSIONS: T-6A Texan II: USAF/USN version, as described.
T-6A-1/CT-156 Harvard II: Version for NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) programme; generally similar to Texan II, but with blind-flying hood, dual VOR and ADF, and back-up VHF comm in place of UHF.
T-6B: Trainer and light attack (AT-6B) derivative of T-6A announced at Farnborough International in July 2002. To incorporate revised cockpit management systems, with avionics suite provided by Flight Visions; latter includes FV-4000 modular mission display processor (MMDP), SparrowHawk HUD, stores management system and associated multifunction displays (MFDs) and six underwing pylons. Weaponry including guns, bombs and rockets will be available, permitting use in light attack/counter-insurgency role. FAA certification planned for mid-2004.
Beech/Pilatus PC-9 Mk II: Designation of Greek aircraft; first 25 are in USAF/US Navy configuration, remaining 20 in Greek-specified New Trainer Aircraft (NTA) configuration, with weapon sighting system plus provision for carriage of weaponry and auxiliary fuel tanks on three stores stations beneath each wing. Weapons trials, including tests with gun and rocket armament, conducted at Eglin AFB, Florida, in first half of 2002. NTA variant is not to FAR Pt 23.
CUSTOMERS: USAF initial operator is 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph AFB, Texas; second is 479th Flying Training Group at Moody AFB, Georgia (49 aircraft during 2001-02); subsequent deliveries to 47th FTW, Laughlin AFB, Texas (96 aircraft during 2002-04, of which first four delivered 15 November 2002); 71st FTW, Vance AFB, Oklahoma (91 aircraft during 2005-06), 14th FTW, Columbus AFB, Mississippi (89 aircraft during 2006-08) and 80th FTW, Sheppard AFB, Texas (69 aircraft during 2008-09). Initial Navy aircraft included in Lot7; deliveries to US Navy began 1 November 2002, with training scheduled to start in 2003; operating units will include TW-4 at Corpus Christi, Texas and TW-6 at Pensacola, Florida. US Navy aircraft allocated serial numbers 165958 to 166285.
Chilean Air Force signed a letter of intent in late 1996 for future purchase of 16 to 25 Beech Mk IIs, but has still to place firm order.
Bombardier Services of Canada ordered 24 T-6A-1s in December 1997 for its NFTC programme for delivery to No.2 FTS at Moose Jaw between April and December 2000; first delivery (156103) 29 February 2000; NFTC inaugurated 6 July 2000; all 24 aircraft handed over by end 2000. Further two aircraft ordered in mid-2002 for delivery in 2003. On 9 October 1998, Greek Air Force announced selection of T-6 and ordered 45, to be delivered between 2000 and 2003; option held on further five. First delivery (001) 17 July 2000 to 361 Squadron at Kalamata; training of student pilots began September 2001.
Raytheon holds marketing rights to PC-9 Mk II in all countries except Switzerland.
COSTS: Programme US$7 billion, of which US$362 million contracted by March 1998 for first 47 aircraft, comprising one manufacturing development aircraft and 46 production aircraft in five lots. Flyaway cost US$5.41 million over 740 aircraft (1998). Contracts for first 168 aircraft and associated ground training systems amount to US$852.6 million. Lot 10 batch of 35 aircraft cost US$169.9 million including associated training devices and manuals. Contract for two additional NFTC aircraft plus support valued at approximately US$11.6 million.
DESIGN FEATURES: Certified to FAR Pt 23 in Aerobatic category, including 15s inverted flying and 5s intentional zero g. Prohibited manoeuvres are slow roll, stall turn (hammerhead), vertical roll, sustained vertical nose-down and knife-edge.
Approximately 90 per cent redesign of PC-9. Initial improvements in T-6 prototypes comprised new aft fuselage for improved flying qualities; new canopy shape for pressurisation and strengthening for birdstrike resistance; new engine cowling; single-point refuelling; zero/zero ejection seats; cockpit redesign to accommodate 95 per cent of body sizes; laser-initiated canopy fracture system; improved seat mountings; increased engine power, plus digital engine control to replicate jet response; continuous inertial particle separator for engine intake; HFC air conditioning; addition of large aft-fuselage avionics bay; and digital avionics with active matrix LCDs.
Following JPATS selection, further changes involved OBOGS; maintenance-free hydraulic accumulator; redesigned hydraulics system, wheels and brakes for simpler maintenance; improved corrosion protection; 18,720 hour fatigue life in JPATS mission profiles; 4 m (13 ft)/s landing sink rate provision; removable vertical stabiliser for improved maintenance; on-condition hot section inspections; and 4,500 hour engine TBO. NATO T-6As in Canada additionally provided with cold weather start capability.
FLYING CONTROLS: Conventional and manual. Selectable trim aid device (TAD) by Aeromach Labs automatically trims rudder in conjunction with throttle position to minimise effect of torque. Flight-adjustable rudder and elevator tabs; aileron trim by biased centring spring. Stall strip on starboard wing. Control deflections include rudder ±24°; elevators 18° up/16° down; ailerons 20° up/11° down; and flaps 23° for take-off, 50° for landing. Airbrake maximum deflection of 67° 30'.
STRUCTURE: Generally all-metal; durability and damage-tolerant (DADT) structure includes wing and tailplane leading-edges reinforced for bird resistance; 18,000 hour service life. Avionics bay behind rear cockpit; forward-hinged door each side. Airframe built entirely in USA.
LANDING GEAR: Goodrich wheels and brakes. Capable of withstanding sink rates up to 4 m (13ft)/s. Mainwheels 20x4.4 (14 ply) tubeless; nosewheel 16x4.4 (8 ply) tubeless. Otherwise generally as for PC-9.
POWER PLANT: One 1,274 kW (1,708 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop flat rated at 820 kW (1,100 shp) max continuous (104 per cent), driving a Hartzell HC-E4A-2/E9612 four-blade, fully-feathering propeller at a constant 2,000 rpm. Raytheon/P&WC power management unit provides jet-type linear throttle response. T-6A has integral 348 litre (92.0 US gallon; 76.6 Imp gallon) tank in each wing leading-edge; tanks freely interconnected; total fuel capacity 697 litres (184 US gallons; 153 Imp gallons), of which 681 litres (180 US gallons; 150 Imp gallons) are usable. AT-6B fuel capacity 852 litres (225 US gallons; 187 Imp gallons). AT-6B has provision for two underwing auxiliary fuel tanks, each 265 litres (70.0 US gallons; 58.3 Imp gallons). Pressure refuelling/defuelling point in lower fuselage, adjacent to port wingroot; gravity refuelling points at three quarters' span each wing upper surface. Oil capacity 17 litres (4.5 US gallons; 3.75 Imp gallons).
ACCOMMODATION: Two pilots in stepped cockpits on Martin-Baker Mk 16LA zero/zero ejection seats. Limited HOTAS controls in T-6A; full multifunction HOTAS in AT-6B. Three-piece, Pilkington Aerospace acrylic starboard-hinged canopy; integral windscreen 19 mm (¾ in) thick for resistance to strike by 1.8 kg (4 lb) bird at 270 kt (500 km/h; 311 mph); other panels 9 mm (⅓ in) thick. ATK canopy fracturing initiation unit and Teledyne McCormick fracturing system. Accommodation pressurised and air conditioned; warm air canopy defrosting/demisting. Baggage compartment in rear fuselage, behind avionics bay; upward-hinged door port side.
SYSTEMS: Generally as PC-9. Dowty Aerospace hydraulics; Enviro Systems air conditioning unit; Litton OBOGS. Cockpit pressurisation system has 0.24 bar (3.5 lb/sq in) max differential. Battery 28 V. Goodrich emergency power system.
AVIONICS: Honeywell primary contractor.
Comms: VHF/UHF transceiver, plus back-up VHF with separate antenna; intercom and interphone. MST 67A Mode S transponder. Back-up UHF in Canadian aircraft. T-6A's radio management unit replaced in AT-6B by up-front control panel below HUD.
Flight: Dual VNS-41 navigation systems (including VNS-411B receivers) for VOR, localiser, glideslope and marker beacon functions through common antenna. DFS-43A ADF (DF-431 receiver and AT-434 loop/sense antenna); KLN 90 GPS (combined INS-GPS in AT-6B); and Rockwell Collins 252-channel DM-441B DME. Litef fibre optic gyro for AHRS. Goodrich collision warning system. Flight data recorder. Extended ADF navigation in Canadian aircraft. Integrated radar altimeter in AT-6B.
Instrumentation: Two independent EFIS 50 127 mm (5 in) square active matrix LCDs, plus control panel, in each cockpit (or one, plus 127 x 102 mm; 5 x 4 in MFD in AT-6B); attitude director indicator portion of EFIS provides primary attitude display, turn rate, mode selection annunciation, localiser/glideslope deviation as appropriate; horizontal situation indicator for primary heading display, primary navigation display, course select indication, navigation source annunciation, DME, localiser and glideslope deviation, remote map presentation and selected heading reference marker. Additional three 76 mm (3 in) square MFDs per cockpit provide engine and auxiliary instrument information, including fuel state and pressurisation (engine MFD being replaced in AT-6B by 152 x 203 mm; 6 x 8 in MFD). Standby instrumentation comprises airspeed, attitude, turn-and-slip and magnetic compass (electromechanical in T-6A, digital in AT-6B). Korry Electronics warning panels. Flight Visions SparrowHawk HUD and second 152 x 203 mm (6 x 8 in) active matrix, liquid crystal MFD (with moving map provision) in T-6B version. AT-6B is compatible with Gen 4 NVGs. Provision for three-screen EFIS version, with HUD and integrated display panel for advanced training.
Mission: Dual-mission computers, FN Herstal weapons control system and Avimo gunsight in AT-6B. Provision for laser range-finder.
ARMAMENT: AT-6B version has three hardpoints under each wing. Typical loads include (a) two HMP 0.5 in machine gun pods; (b) two external fuel tanks; (c) six BDU-33 25 lb practice bombs; (d) two BDU-33s, two HMPs and two LAU-68 seven round rocket pods; and (e) two Mk 82 500 lb bombs.