FIELD AEROSPACE has completed the first flight of a US Air Force T-1A Jayhawk with a new, modernised flight deck. The aircraft was 90-0412 ‘AP’ from the 479th Flying Training Group/451st Flying Training Squadron (FTS) at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Wearing temporary civilian registration N412FV for test flying, the Combat System Officer (CSO) training aircraft took to the air for the first time after the upgrade on March 22, when it made two consecutive check flights from the company’s facility in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
An $18,500,038 contract for the T-1A Avionics Modification programme had been awarded to Field Aerospace by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on February 14, 2018. This provides for the replacement of the avionics suite in all 178 aircraft in the USAF T-1A fleet. In addition, 16 operational flight trainers and 14 part-task trainers will be similarly upgraded as part of the contract. Field won the contract as a result of a competitive acquisition, bidding against seven other offers. The first aircraft had arrived at Oklahoma City for the upgrade work to begin on July 18, 2018. Work on the contract is expected to be completed by August 14, 2025.
As well as prime contractor Field Aerospace, sub-contractors involved in the programme are Collins Aerospace, FlightSafety International, HEBCO and Nextant Aerospace. The modernisation not only updates the avionics, but also adds Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out, eliminating obsolescence issues for this ageing aircraft. It includes updating the fleet with the Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite and enables the T-1A fleet to meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s ADS-B Out mandate to support the trainer’s standing requirement to access the National Airspace System.
The T-1As are stationed with units at five US operating bases. In addition to the already mentioned Pensacola unit, these comprise the 14th Flying Training Wing (FTW)/48th FTS at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; 47th FTW/86th FTS at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas; 12th FTW/99th FTS at Joint Base San Antonio/Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; and 71st FTW/3rd FTS at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. After initial work at the Field Aerospace facility in Oklahoma City, the remaining aircraft will be modified in situ at these five bases.
Most of the T-1A fleet is used in the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) role, with the balance used for CSO training. The aircraft carry out the advanced phase of training for airlift and tanker pilots.