Textron Aviation to deliver T-54A Multi-Engine Training System (METS) aircraft to the US Navy in early 2024. Textron considers the programme low-risk because it built and demonstrated a production-like aircraft as part of the contract proposal process. Defense industry news site Janes reported that the T-54A will incorporate several commercial modifications into Textron’s existing Beechcraft King Air 260 commercial turboprop. Among the modifications are an angle of attack indicator, a digital audio control system to allow pilots to communicate with their onboard observer, additional seating for very important persons (VIPs), and a monitoring system to provide real-time data to maintenance crews.
The U.S. Navy announced on January 25 2023, that it awarded Textron Aviation a single, firm-fixed-price contract to develop the T-54A multi-engine training system (METS) aircraft. The T-54A Multi-Engine Training System (METS) aircraft will replace the T-44 Pegasus aircraft and will feature a pressurized aircraft cockpit with side-by-side seating and a jump seat. The T-44C sundown will begin six months after METS’ first delivery. The total contract value, including the base and contract options, is $677.2 million for the procurement of up to 64 aircraft. The contract also covers support equipment, spares and initial training. The aircraft deliveries are scheduled from calendar year 2024 to 2026.
This contract award will provide new aircraft to train Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard pilots to fly non-centerline thrust aircraft such as the V-22 Osprey, E-2D Hawkeye, C-130 Hercules and P-8 Poseidon. The T-54A will provide advanced instrument and asymmetric engine handling training to student naval aviators selected for multi-engine fleet communities. The base contract is for $113.1 million for 10 aircraft. PMA-273, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, oversees the METS program. PMA-273 develops and oversees diverse and carrier-capable naval flight training systems where student pilots and undergraduate military flight officers acquire mission-critical aviation skills necessary to carry out current and future missions of the U.S Navy.
The Beechcraft King Air is a line of American utility aircraft produced by Beechcraft (a brand of Textron Aviation). The King Air line comprises a number of twin-turboprop models that have been divided into two families. The Model 90 and 100 series developed in the 1960s are known as King Airs, while the later T-tail Model 200 and 300 series were originally marketed as Super King Airs. The U.S. military has used King Air 90s in various roles, primarily VIP and liaison transport, with designations including the VC-6A, the T-44 Pegasus, and the U-21 Ute. The King Air 260 METS aircraft will be delivered in a fully compliant, METS mission ready configuration from Textron Aviation’s King Air production line in Wichita, Kansas.