The Navy Selects the Beechcraft King Air 260 T-54A as the replacement METS
The U.S. Navy has selected and formally announced the replacement of their fleet of T-44C Pegasus aircraft used in the Multi-Engine Training System program. The Beechcraft King Air 260 will fill the role designated as the T-54A. Textron will be fulfilling the contract, which amounts to a total procurement for up to 64 aircraft total. The initial contract as of January 25th is for ten aircraft, valued at $113.1 million. However, the total contract value will be $677.2 million.
The delivery schedule for the aircraft begins in the calendar year 2024 and ends in 2026. The T-44 Pegasus will begin the sundowning process six months after the first T-54s are delivered. The METS program is an intermediate program located at NAS Corpus Christi. It is the program for all aviators slotted for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard multi-engine aircraft (not fighter-track, though), which includes C-2, E-2, C-130, V-22, & P-8 airframes.
About NAS Corpus Christi
NAS Corpus Christi is one of the Naval Flight School locations and is home to Primary Training and METS, which are co-located to ease the transition of Naval aviators from one stage of the journey to the next. Naval aviator candidates will conduct their initial training in the T-6 Texan II, where they will earn their wings and also be selected for a track. Fighter and attack track move on to the T-45 Goshawk, helicopter candidates tackle the TH-57 Sea Ranger, and the remainder go to METS. The T-44, which is a model H90 King Air, has been in service with the Navy for 46 years, with deliveries spanning from 1977 to 1980. The remarkable thing about the T-44 is that the Navy did not conduct a major upgrade or change in designation until 2006 when all Alpha models were upgraded to Charlie models. The Charlie model upgrades were avionics upgrades, while the airframe and engines remained unchanged. But life as a trainer is tough, and their 46-year lifespan is impressive. The Beechcraft King Air 260s will provide the U.S. Navy with state-of-the-art avionics and is an attractive option for the DoD in general, considering the sizable fleet of C-12 and C-12 derived aircraft operating across service branches.
The King Air 260 is the newest member of the King Air Model 200 series of aircraft but shares many common components with the rest of the Model 200 fleet, which comprises most of the C-12 fleet. Common airframe, common supply chain. In this light, modernizing the METS fleet with a Model 200-series aircraft makes perfect sense; logistics and parts procurement issues can be easily consolidated into one common service. Overall, it will be interesting to see how the Navy will incorporate T-54 logistics and supply chain with other similar assets, including their and the USMCs fleets of C-12 aircraft. Until then, the T-54 will be a much-appreciated asset to the Naval Flight Training program.