On 25 January 2023, the US Navy announced that a new multi-engine training system (METS) aircraft will be developed to replace the Beechcraft T-44C Pegasus. For this, they have awarded Textron Aviation a single, firm-fixed-price contract valued at USD 677 million to develop the T-54A METS aircraft.
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, valued at USD 113 million, is for the first ten aircraft. The total contract value, including the base and contract options, is for the procurement of up to 64 aircraft. This contract also covers support equipment, spares and initial training.
UPDATE 17 February 2023; Batch 1: 10x T-54A, Batch 2: 27x T-54A and Batch 3: 27x T-54A.
The new trainer, a model Beechcraft King Air 260, will feature a pressurised aircraft cockpit with side-by-side seating and a jump seat. The cockpit will be equipped with multifunction displays with a digital moving map; redundant ultra-high frequency and very high frequency radios; an integrated global positioning system/inertial navigation system; automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast; flight management system; weather radar, radar altimeter, and a cockpit data recorder. The METS aircraft will also have tricycle landing gear and a reconfigurable cargo bay in the cabin.
Aircraft deliveries are scheduled from 2024 to 2026. The T-44C Pegasus training aircraft are operated by Training Air Wing (TAW) 4 at NAS Corpus Christi (TX). The Wing has two Pegasus training units under its command, Training Squadron (VT) 31 Wise Owls ('G-4xx') and Training Squadron (VT) 35 Stingrays ('G-4xx').
Photo by Joris Termorshuizen (Scramble Archive)