Textron Aviation delivers the first of its modernised Beechcraft King Air 260 aircraft, providing new training capabilities for naval aviators.

Last year, Textron Aviation secured the contract from the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), winning the bid for up to 64 Beechcraft King Air 260 aircraft, designated as the T-54A. The contract includes additional aircraft procurement and delivery options between next year and 2026. 

Textron Aviation, a subsidiary of Textron, has commenced the delivery of its Beechcraft King Air 260 aircraft to the US Navy, initiating a phase in naval aviation training. The Multi-Engine Training System (METS) T-54A, as it will be known within the Navy, represents an upgrade over the ageing fleet of T-44C Pegasus aircraft currently in service. 

According to GlobalData’s intelligence on the US defence market, the US Navy has 54 T-44C Pegasus training and light attack aircraft in its fleet, acquiring them from 1977 onwards. Other training and light attack aircraft that serve the Navy from Textron Aviation include the T-34C Turbomentor and T-6B Texan II. 

Designed to modernise the training curriculum and align closely with future fleet aircraft, the T-54A aims to introduce enhanced avionics and automation features to better prepare students for the complexities of naval aviation.

Bob Gibbs, vice-president of special missions sales at Textron Aviation, emphasised the benefits of leveraging Textron’s Beechcraft King Air assembly line: “The T-54A benefits from an active Beechcraft King Air assembly line in Wichita, Kansas, where all required METS avionics and interior modifications are installed on the line; keeping costs down, aircraft conformity consistent across the fleet and optimising the delivery schedule to the Navy.”

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The METS-specific capabilities integrated into the T-54A further enhance its suitability for training, offering features such as TACAN, angle-of-attack indicators, and digital audio systems. Moreover, the recent METS Ground Based Training System contract award to TRU Simulation + Training, a Textron Aviation affiliate, reveals an approach to modernising naval aviation training, incorporating both aircraft and training devices.

The King Air 260 features the Innovative Solutions & Support ThrustSense Autothrottle system and Collins Multi-Scan weather radar to enhance pilot efficiency and safety.