The Colombian Air Force received two of the eight acquired Beechcraft T-6C Texan II training aircraft in July 2021. Credit: Columbian Air Force.
T-6C Texan II aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 turboprop engines. Credit: Columbian Air Force.
Beechcraft’s T-6C Texan II next-generation military flight trainer aircraft is an improved version of the T-6B Texan II primary aircraft training system. Credit: Columbian Air Force.

Beechcraft’s (formerly Hawker Beechcraft) T-6C Texan II next-generation military flight trainer aircraft is an improved version of the T-6B Texan II primary aircraft training system. Beechcraft is a brand of Textron Aviation.

The T-6C Texan II military trainer is significantly improved to provide reliable training operations with lower maintenance and operational costs. The aircraft provides embedded synthetic air-to-ground and air-to-air training solutions, while also supporting simulated combat training tasks.

An enhanced version of the T-6C trainer, T-6C+ is equipped with an FN Herstal stores management system and advanced avionics.

T-6C military trainer design and features

The T-6C trainer features a hard-point wing to carry external fuel tanks, weapons and other external stores. The aircraft is capable of providing military training for more than 18,720 hours.

It is equipped with a trim aid device to reduce the need for rudder control and uses CAE’s ground-based training systems (GBTS), including an operational flight trainer (OFT), computer-based classroom training systems, courseware, and full-mission simulators.

The aircraft has a height of 3.2m, length of 10.2m and wingspan of 10.2m. It has an empty weight of 2,337kg and a maximum take-off weight of 3,130kg.

Cockpit and avionics of the T-6C trainer

The state-of-the-art, open-architecture, all-digital, integrated glass cockpit consists of six interchangeable colour 5in x 7in active-matrix liquid-crystal multifunction displays. It also features a hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) flight control system, two Martin-Baker MkUS16LA 0/0 ejection seats, and an Integrated Up Front Control Panel (UFCP).

The advanced Esterline CMC Cockpit 4000 avionics suite incorporates FAA-certified and integrated dual flight management system (FMS), GPS / INS navigation systems, primary flight display (PFD), SparrowHawk head-up display with F-16 or F/A-18 selectable display capabilities, inertial reference unit, radar altimeter, digital video recorder / data transfer system and on-board synthetic training.

The aircraft is also fitted with an automatic environmental control system (ECS) to maintain a comfortable cockpit temperature during the flight.

Engine and performance

The T-6C Texan II aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 turboprop engines, which generate a total power of 1,100shp.

The aircraft can fly at a maximum certified cruise altitude of 9,449m and climb at a rate of 1,173m a minute. The time to climb from sea level to an altitude of 15,000ft is 5.9 minutes.

The maximum and low-level speeds of the aircraft are 586km/h (indicated air speed) and 500km/h respectively. The maximum ferry range with two external fuel tanks is 2,559m, whereas the range without external fuel tanks is 1,637m.

Orders and deliveries

The US Government awarded a $185.3m contract to Hawker Beechcraft in October 2009 for 24 T-6C Texan II trainers to replace the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s (RMAF) existing fleet of T-34 basic trainer aircraft and T-37 jet trainers, under a government-to-government agreement between Morocco and the US. The first T-6C military trainer for the RMAF was rolled out in July 2010 and the first 12 aircraft were delivered in May 2011.

Beechcraft partnered with BAE Systems and CAE in September 2013 to develop a T-6C aircraft, as well as advanced simulators, training systems, maintenance and logistics for the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) AIR 5428 integrated pilot training system (PTS) project. The PTS development was completed in April 2014.

In January 2014, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) placed two contracts with Beechcraft for 11 T-6C Texan II aircraft, spares, and training, logistics and maintenance services. The RNZAF received the first two T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft in August 2014, and two more trainers were delivered in October 2014.

The Mexican Air Force (FAM) signed a contract with Beechcraft for six T-6C+ trainers to replace its ageing PC-7 fleet in January 2012. The first four aircraft under the order were delivered in August 2012, following which a follow-on order for six more T-6C+ trainers was placed in October 2013. A further contract was awarded to CAE in January 2014 for a T-6C+ GBTS for the FAM.

The Mexican Navy Secretaría de Marina (SEMAR) signed a contract with Beechcraft for two T-6C+ trainers in March 2014. Deliveries were made in August 2014.

In February 2016, Affinity Flying Training Services placed two contracts with Beechcraft for the delivery of ten Beechcraft T-6C aircraft, parts, engineering and maintenance services to the UK Ministry of Defence’s Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) programme. Beechcraft delivered the two aircraft in February 2018. The aircraft will be used for the training of pilots of the UK Royal Airforce and the Royal Navy.

The US Department of Defense approved a foreign military sale of 24 T-6C+ trainers to the Argentine Air Force in August 2016. A contract worth $88.2m for the first four aircraft was signed in April 2017 and the deliveries were completed in October 2017.

In October 2017, Textron Aviation Beechcraft secured an $8m order to supply 255 satellite-based air navigation and tracking systems for T-6 Texan II fleet of the US Navy and Army. The order includes automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) kits.

The US State Department approved the sale of 12 T-6C aircraft and related equipment to Tunisia in October 2019. The $234m foreign military sale includes the aircraft, spare engines, cartridge actuated devices/propellant actuated devices, operational flight trainer, spare parts, ground handling equipment and various other support services.

The Royal Thai Air Force bought 12 Beechcraft T-6C Texan II trainer aircraft, as well as spare parts, training and support services, for $162m from Textron Aviation Defence in September 2020.

The UK Royal Air Force received four new T-6C Texan II aircraft in October 2020.

The Colombian Air Force acquired eight Beechcraft T-6C Texan II training aircraft in 2020, of which two were delivered in July 2021.