The US Navy has released a sources sought notice for a new “tactical surrogate aircraft” that will be expected to perform a multitude of missions.
The navy issued the RFI just days after the US Air Force released a similar call for a considerable quantity of “advanced tactical trainers,” despite the lined up purchase of over 300 T-7A Red Hawks as part of its T-X program.
The navy requirements outlined in the RFI from October 20 also partially align with the service’s Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS) project aimed at finding a successor for the T-45C Goshawk advanced jet trainer.
As specified, the tactical surrogate aircraft would support three separate training tasks, including augmenting flight time and training in frontline aircraft, providing adversary air support, and serving as a flight lead aircraft for fleet replacement squadrons.
Around 64 aircraft of the type are expected to be purchased, with the program tentatively set for a start in fiscal year 24 or 25.
“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 maneuver elements,” the RFI said.
Among the required capabilities for the two-seat fighter type aircraft configured for single seat operations with alternate options for rear cockpit use are a minimum speed of at least .9 Mach and a minimum ceiling of at least 45,000 feet. The airframe should be capable of handling minimum G force structural limits of at least 7.5 G with sustained 6 G at 10,000 feet.
Also required are secure, open architecture large area displays with an additional input port to enable the capability to display additional inputs to replicate frontline aircraft displays and enable simulated displays of aircraft combat systems, simulated inputs, and simulated weapons.
The deadline for interested companies to submit their proposals to the RFI is November 19, 2021.