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Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II - United States, 2000

Detailing the development and operational history of the Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II Tandem-Seat Basic Trainer Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 8/29/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II  
Picture of Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II

The Beechcraft-Raytheon T-6 Texan II is an acrobatic tandem-seat aviation trainer in service with several militaries today.

The Beechcraft/Raytheon T-6 "Texan II" is a lightweight, high performance, turboprop-powered basic/advanced trainer based on the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 series. The aircraft was born through a U.S. DoD initiative to help consolidate pilot training amongst its Air Force and Navy services while doing away with older generation T-34 and T-37 aircraft then in service. Begun in 1991, the JPATS (Joint Primary Aircraft Training System) program was established as a combination of resources in an effort to reduce the overall costs of pilot training. The T-6 Texan II was the adopted aircraft that beat out some six other suitors, becoming the namesake to the World War 2-era North American T-6 "Texan" in its primary role. Exported to other nations, the Texan II has also been outfitted with munitions for the light attack role.

The T-6 Texan II series is largely on the Pilatus PC-9 Mk II variant with the first prototype flight conducted in December of 1992. Deliveries then began in 2000. Despite some obvious commonalities between the Swiss version and the American mark, the T-6 Texan II enjoys a reinforced internal structure and a more powerful engine. Due to the militarization common to aircraft ported over from civilian models, the Texan II was given an increased Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) as well as ejection seats for the two pilots. The two airmen are seated in tandem under a single-piece canopy hinged to open to the side. The typical arrangement seats the student in front with the instructor at rear while vision from both seats remains excellent thanks to the raised bubble-style canopy in play.

Picture of the Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II
Picture of the Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II

Power is served through a sole Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 series turboprop engine developing 1,100 horsepower while driving a four-bladed Hartzell propeller assembly at front. Speeds can reach 365 miles per hour while cruising is generally handled in the 320-mile per hour range. Operational ranges reach out to 1,035 miles with a service ceiling of 31,000 feet. The airframe is rated for G-limits up to 7.0g and -3.5g.

Operators beyond the United States now include Canada (CF-156 "Harvard II"), Greece, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, and New Zealand. Canadian aircraft carry over the original "Harvard" name of World War 2 based on the original North American T-6 trainers. The Iraqi Air Force has received some 36 AT-6B Texan II light attack variants to date while New Zealand models are set to be delivered in 2016. Mexico received its aircraft in 2012-2013 and these serve both the air force and naval branches of service.

Current marks include the standard T-6A trainer, the T-6A NTA light attack model for the Greek Air Force, the upgraded T-6B with glass cockpit and HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-and-Stick). the AT-6B light attack variant, the T-6C upgraded form, and the Canadian CT-156 "Harvard II" largely based on the USAF/USN models.

Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6A Texan II Specifications

Service Year: 2000
Type: Tandem-Seat Basic Trainer Aircraft
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Raytheon Aircraft Company / Hawker Beechcraft - USA
Total Production: 636

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 2
Overall Length: 33.46 feet (10.2 meters)
Overall Width: 33.50 feet (10.21 meters)
Overall Height: 10.70 feet (3.26 meters)

Weight (Empty): 4,601 lb (2,087 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 6,301 lb (2,858 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turbo-prop engine developing 1,100 shaft horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 278 knots (320 mph; 515 kph)
Maximum Range: 850 nautical miles (979 miles; 1,575 km)
Service Ceiling: 31,004 feet (9,450 meters; 5.87 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 3,100 feet-per-minute (945 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

Typically none for training. However, armed versions mount rocket pods, gun pods, conventional drop bombs as well as external fuel drop tanks as required for light combat role.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Canada; Greece; Iraq; Israel; Mexico; Morocco; New Zealand; United Kingdom; United States

Model Variants

T-6 "Texan II" - Base series designation; based on the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 series.
T-6A - Base Trainer for use by USAF, USN, and Greek Air Force.
T-6A NTA - Armed variant for Greece Air Force; based on T-6A model; provision for drop bombs, gun pods, rocket pods, and external fuel tanks.
T-6B - Updated Texan II; digital cockpit; HOTAS.
AT-6B - Armed Light Attack Variant based on T-6B model.
CT-156 "Harvard II" - Canadian T-6A export version

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