HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE TRAINING FLIGHT U.S. Navy and Marine tactical jet pilots earn their wings in Boeing’s Goshawk By Henry T. Brownlee Jr. 12 BOEING FRONTIERS / JUNE 2013 So, you want to fly jet fighters? Well, a jet trainer comes first. Before they can handle a supersonic fighter such as Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, which can slice through the sky at nearly twice the speed of sound, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators must undergo a rigorous flight training program that prepares them to operate the best fighter aircraft in the world. And for 25 years, the Navy’s system for intermediate and advanced student aviators to transition to jet fighter aircraft has been Boeing’s T-45 Training System, or T45TS. The centerpiece of that system is the T-45 jet trainer, known as the “Goshawk.” In nature, a Goshawk is a powerful bird of prey. As a jet, the Goshawk has prepared many a U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviator for a career as a military jet pilot. The story of the Goshawk began in 1978 when Douglas Aircraft, a division of McDonnell Douglas, partnered with British Aerospace to enter the U.S. Navy’s competition to develop a new training system for jet pilots. The Navy wanted an integrated system to replace both the North American Aviation T-2 Buckeye intermediate jet pilot training program and the Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk advanced jet training program. Douglas, North American and McDonnell Douglas would later become Boeing heritage companies. As the basic aircraft for the Navy’s jet training system, McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace chose the Hawk, a proven British-built trainer. The Hawk had been selected by the Royal Air Force in 1970 as its principle jet trainer for basic and advanced training. The proposal to the Navy by McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace included a carrier-suitable version of the Hawk, simulators and an array of academic and other elements that would prepare student pilots for naval jet aircraft. The Navy awarded the T45TS contract to the McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace team in November 1981, with McDonnell as the prime contractor. McDonnell and British Aerospace collaborated on significant modifications to make the basic Hawk design aircraft carrier suitable as the T-45A, a two-seat, single-engine jet trainer that is approximately 39 feet (12 meters) long, 14 feet (4 meters) high with a wingspan of 30 feet 10 inches (9.4 meters).
Frontiers June 2013 Issue
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