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US Navy seeks new ‘Aggressor' training aircraft

Seen in USN colours as part of Boeing's pitch for the service's Undergraduate Jet Training System requirement, the T-7A Red Hawk is likely to be one of the candidate platforms put forward for the USN's recently released Tactical Surrogate Aircraft requirement. (Boeing)

The US Navy (USN) has issued a request for information (RFI) for a new Aggressor aircraft for ‘red air' combat training.

The Tactical Surrogate Aircraft (TSA) requirement released on 21 October would see a new aircraft type perform three primary pilot training missions, namely to augment flight time and training in front-line type model series aircraft, provide adversary air support, and to serve as a flight lead aircraft for fleet replacement squadrons.

“The aircraft needs to simulate and/or replicate current and future fighter aircraft systems by providing the training environment and relevant experience to build tactical skills, systems management skills, and decision-making skills required for weapon system employment actions. These actions will be influenced by environmental information, avionics outputs, sensor data, weapon-cueing, and manoeuvre elements,” the RFI said.

Under the terms of the solicitation, the USN intends to procure a notional 64 aircraft over three to four years starting from fiscal year (FY) 2024 or FY 2025.

Requirements issued by the service include a twin-seat aircraft that can be configured for single-pilot operation, an open architecture avionics suite with large-area cockpit displays that can replicate the displays and systems of front-line aircraft, a low-cost helmet-mounted display system, hands-on throttle and stick pilot controls, single pylons under each wing that can carry weapons, fuel tanks, and/or electronic warfare/attack pods. It should have a speed of Mach 0.9 at 10,000 ft, a service ceiling of 45,000 ft, a +7.5 g structural limit, and a 90-minute endurance (including 30 minutes of tactical manoeuvring).

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