Aviation

Hawker Beechcraft delivers its 600th T-6B training plane to the U.S. Navy

Hawker Beechcraft delivered its 600th Beechcraft T-6 military training aircraft Wednesday, 10 years after deliveries initially began.

The plane, a T-6B, was delivered to the U.S. Navy, where it will be used for primary flight training. It will be based at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla.

The company celebrated the delivery with a ceremony attended by Navy officials and Hawker Beechcraft employees.

More than 2,000 people work on the T-6 program.

The T-6 was selected 15 years ago to fill the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System role for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.

Since then, it's been selected for use as primary trainers by NATO Flying Training in Canada, the Hellenic air force of Greece, the Israeli air force, the Iraqi air force and the Royal Moroccan air force.

It's been used to train pilots and navigators from about 20 countries.

Hawker Beechcraft's contract with the U.S. Navy is for 300 aircraft, company officials say.

The plane will give the Navy continuity in training. The T-6B is equipped with a glass cockpit. That will allow Navy pilots to make the transition to other aircraft in the Navy's fleet that either have or will have similar avionics.

"You're providing a great service to our country," Capt. James Vandiver, commander of the U.S. Navy's Training Air Wing Five at Whiting Field, told the Hawker Beechcraft employees. "We'll be good stewards of your planes, and we'll be good stewards of your sons and daughters as they go through flight training with us."

The plane replaces the T-34s.

"It's a horse," Vandiver said of the T-6B. "It's twice as powerful."

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