The T-6B Texan II is an upgraded avionics variant of the T-6A Texan II and one component of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) along with simulators, computer-aided academics, and a Training Integration Management System (TIMS). The joint program, of which the Air Force acts as the executive service, will replace Navy T-34C aircraft. The program uses commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) subsystems to the maximum extent possible. The T-6 aircraft-built by Hawker Beechcraft Aircraft Company is a derivative of the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 aircraft with a Pratt & Whitney PT-6A-68 engine, Martin-Baker ejection seats, cockpit pressurization, and an onboard oxygen-generating system. The T-6B upgraded avionics provide an all-glass cockpit using three 5x7 multifunction displays, head-up display, hands-on throttle and stick, dual redundant Integrated Avionics Computers and an open-architecture design to allow for future growth. The Navy's total T-6B requirement is 252 aircraft.
The T-6 entered development flight test in July 1998. The FAA approved type and production certification for the T-6A aircraft and production line on 30 July 1999. A successful flight test program and a successful Milestone III full rate production decision followed in December 2001. Both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy have since entered into a full rate production contract with Hawker Beechcraft for aircraft. In April 2007, the Navy began procuring an upgraded avionics variant of the Texan II, the T-6B, for primary pilot training. The U.S. Navy has received 140 aircraft to date and the system when fully fielded will be operational at two Navy bases. The T-6B achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in April 2010 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla.
The Navy aircraft and ground-based training systems will be completely supported and maintained by commercial vendors with intermediate maintenance provided for selected systems at the operating site.