Navy to Modify T-45 Training Jets for Improved Performance

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — A modification to the Navy’s T-45 Goshawk training jet is in the works at Boeing to improve the aircraft’s performance, especially in extreme operating regimes.

“The Engine Inlet Modification is being developed to improve engine performance at some edges of the envelope,” said Philip Paul, Boeing’s program manager for T-45/AV-8B Programs. “The T-45 performs many flight maneuvers similar to high performance fighter jets. Student pilots learn through exposure to these extreme operational regimes, which prepares them for these conditions that are outside of regular flight operations. The Engine Inlet Mod provides additional performance margin in these conditions that can stress airframe/engine integration.”

An engine inlet modification actually was tested on a T-45 years ago, but only now is coming into fruition as an engineering change for the entireT-45 fleet. The Navy’s Critical Design Review for the modification is expected “in the near future,” Paul said.

Boeing is actively involved in sustaining the T-45 fleet, which has been out of production for almost six years. In addition to the Engine Inlet Modification program, the company is participating in the Sub-System Service Life Assessment Phase B, and Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) Phase 1B.

“Some of the oldest T-45s are nearing middle age,” Paul said. “Boeing is working with the Navy to develop a Service Life Extension Program for the T-45, to maximize the life of this robust airframe, and to minimize sustainment costs of the subsystems. With any aircraft having a conventional flight control system and digital avionics, obsolescence management is crucial to long-term sustainment. We will be using technology refreshments and leverage Boeing’s expertise to develop and implement a plan that keeps the T-45 a premier training platform for many more years, while ensuring the viability of the supply base.

“Since the T-45 is a derivative of the BAE Systems Hawk trainer, much of the supply base is in the United Kingdom,” he said. “While this creates additional supply chain challenges, Boeing has the expertise to minimize these challenges. Boeing works closely with BAE Systems and all our suppliers to keep the T-45 sustainable and relevant.

Paul said that Boeing is “able to assess the usage of the fleet aircraft against the test-proven durability of the T-45, and identify areas of the aircraft where SLEP improvements are needed to maximize service life. The benefit to the Navy is that they can achieve many years of additional service life with the current T-45 fleet.”

The Navy has not yet determined when a replacement training aircraft will be needed to succeed the T-45 fleet.

“The Service Life Extension Program, cockpit and avionics modernizations, fatigue life tracking, and an optimized fleet management plan will allow the Navy to continue to use the T-45 fleet for a very long time to come,” Paul said. “There will be T-45 pilots who have yet to be born.”

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