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Old 23rd Nov 2020, 16:00
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USN Seek F-35C Surrogate Training Aircraft


Navy May Seek New Training Aircraft

The U.S. Navy has approached industry to look at options for a surrogate training aircraft that could eventually double as an adversary platform.

A senior naval aviation official, speaking under Chatham House Rules in an online forum, said there was a growing need for a platform that was cheaper to fly than the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter and could help pilots maintain their live flying hours. Such a platform would be multirole and adapted for use in the aggressor/adversary role.

“It is incredibly expensive to fly the F-35, and I don’t believe it will be significantly less expensive to fly Next-Generation Air Dominance for FA-XX,” the official said. “If we can find a platform that we can use as a surrogate, we may also have the ability to turn that platform into a potential adversary.”

The official said the Navy was working with the U.S. Air Force and studying what it was planning to do with its new Boeing T-7 Red Hawk jet trainer. The platform could also be adapted from one selected as the Navy’s T-45 Goshawk replacement as part of its Undergraduate Jet Training System program, the details of which emerged last spring.

The Navy is particularly eager to replace both the aging Northrop F-5 Tiger and legacy-model Boeing F/A-18 Hornet, which are still being used by aggressor units in the Navy. The legacy Hornets are due to be replaced by Super Hornets in 2021.

Due to the high cost of operating the platform, several international air forces have previously discussed the use of a surrogate platform as a way of maintaining flying hours for F-35 pilots. In 2015, the Netherlands was studying the Italian M-346 jet trainer for the task. But this plan appears to have fallen by the wayside.
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