Navy Modernizes Training Fleet with T-54A Delivery

The multi-engine trainer is replacing the T-44C Pegasus, which has been in service since 1977.

A T-54A multi-engine aircraft sits on the flight line of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on April 18. [Courtesy: U.S. Navy]

The U.S. Navy has updated its training fleet by taking delivery of a pair of  T-54A multi-engine training system (METS) aircraft based on the Beechcraft King Air 260 platform.

The aircraft will replace the T-44C Pegasus, an earlier version of a militarized King Air that has been in use since 1977. The T-44C is slated to be phased out over the next year.

Last week the T-54As were flown from the factory in Wichita, Kansas, to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, where they will be used by Naval Air Training Command. They will be used to train the next generation of naval aviators who may go on to fly the P-8A Poseidon, E-2D Hawkeye and C-130 Hercules.

The Navy placed an order for the aircraft made by Textron Aviation in January 2023 as part of a 2023 METS contract. 

“The new METS aircraft will give us the ability to train pilots across the services with an advanced platform that better represents fleet aircraft," Captain Holly Shoger, program manager of the Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office, said at the time. "The T-54A will include the latest avionics and navigational updates, such as virtual reality and augmented reality devices, to ensure pilots are ready to face any challenges that come their way in tomorrow’s battlespace.” 

The T-54A is a pressurized turboprop with state-of-the-art avionics, including multifunction displays with a digital moving map, an integrated GPS/inertial navigation system, ADS-B, a flight management system, weather radar, radar altimeter, and a cockpit data recorder. 

The T-54 is expected to meet advanced multi-engine and advanced tilt-rotor training requirements for the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps through 2055.

According to NAVAIR, the T-54A will “provide advanced instrument and asymmetric engine handling training to student naval aviators selected for multi-engine fleet communities.”

Last year’s agreement initially ordered 10 King Air 260s and associated support. Deliveries for the first aircraft are scheduled between 2024 and 2026. Per the contract, the Navy may take delivery of up to 64 of the trainers.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter