The T-1A Jayhawk is a twin-engine training aircraft used for advanced pilot training. The students in the advanced program will go on to fly airlift or tanker aircraft. The aircraft is used by the US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. The aircraft entered service in 1993, and requires maintenance and upgrades to continue operations. Many argue that the high costs of repair and upgrade would be better spent on a replacement.
Over the past few years, mission capability rates for the T-1A have been 80% or less. Experts expect this rate to decrease as the aircraft are used in future years. The T-1A has averaged 55% of service life (10,000 of 18,000 hours). Half of the fleet was grounded in the past year to repair severe weather damage. The current status of the T-1A seems unlikely to allow for an increase of pilots in training.
T-1A fleet operations and maintenance costs average $400 million USD per year. Projections for maintenance costs over the next 25 years are $12 billion USD. In 2012, it was announced that the USAF was researching possible upgrades or replacements for the aging T-1A. While it is certainly possible to keep the T-1A in good condition, it may not be possible without upgrades.
The aircraft is derived from the Hawker Beechcraft 400, a twin-jet business aircraft. Hawker released the 400 XPR upgrade program, which focuses on new avionics and higher performance engines. Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Integrated Avionics System enhances situational awareness and complies with the ADS-B Out mandate. The new Williams International FJ44-4A-32 engines will allow for faster climbing speed and greater efficiency. Other upgrades and modifications are available from companies such as Nextant.
Light or very light business jets are the considered preferable replacements for the T-1A. The light business jets are better able to meet USAF regulatory requirements by using additions than the very light business jets. Though the very light jets have better fuel-efficiency, which can decrease sustainment costs.