Textron Aviation Defense’s Beechcraft division has recently completed the delivery of the first T-6C Texan II military training aircraft to Tunisia and Thailand. The T-6C is the current standard export aircraft model and has an armament capability for weapons training and light attack duties.
Tunisia became the 13th customer for the Beechcraft T-6 series, ordering eight for service with No. 13 Squadron based at Sfax. They are replacing Czech-made Aero L-39 jets in the advanced/weapons training role, students progressing to the Texan II after flying the SIAI-Marchetti SF260s of No. 14 Squadron at the same base.
“Becoming a regional leader in military flight training excellence is one of the milestones on the path to achieving our counter-terrorism and border security mission requirements,” said General Mohamed Hajjem, the Tunisian air force chief of staff. “This acquisition paves the way for additional bilateral engagements and strengthens our relationship with the United States.”
Tunisia is acquiring the T-6Cs under a foreign military sales contract, which also includes spare engines and aircraft parts; support equipment; 12 months of contractor support; field service and logistics support representatives; and training for air and ground crew. Textron Aviation affiliate TRU Simulation + Training is providing a suite of training devices, including an operational flight trainer.
Tunisia’s first aircraft is the 1,001st T-6 to be built, with the landmark 1,000th aircraft having been delivered last month to Colombia. The second Tunisian aircraft is slated for delivery later this year, with the remaining six to be handed over next year. Training of an initial cadre of pilots got underway at Textron’s T-6 assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas, on October 31.
A few days before the Tunisian handover, the first two of 12 T-6C Texan IIs (locally designated T-6TH) for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) set off on their ferry flight to Thailand. Twelve were ordered in September 2020. The RTAF is ironically using the Texan IIs to replace its Pilatus PC-9s, the type on which the T-6 is based. They will operate with the flying training school of the 4th Air Division at Kamphaeng Saen.
It is understood that only the first two are being ferried by air to Thailand, routing from Wichita through Canada, Iceland, Scotland, Italy, Greece, and India. The remaining aircraft will be crated for seaborne transport, with two of these aircraft due to stay on in the U.S. for some time to assist the initial training effort before delivery.
During the Dubai Airshow in November 2021, Thailand announced that it was ordering eight AT-6TH Wolverines, so becoming the initial overseas customer for the dedicated armed adaptation of the T-6. The first is scheduled to be delivered to the RTAF in 2024.