Tunisia’s order for T-6 Texan II trainers from Textron Aviation Defence is moving ahead, with the company awarded $90 million towards the production of eight aircraft.
On 30 June the US Department of Defence announced it had awarded Textron Aviation Defence a $90 686 042 modification to a previously awarded contract for the Tunisia T-6C aircraft procurement effort.
The contract modification is for the procurement of eight T-6C aircraft, spare parts, spare engines, aircraft support equipment, training systems and other items.
Work will be performed in Wichita, Kansas, and is expected to be completed by 30 September 2026.
In October 2019 the US State Department approved the sale of up to 12 T-6 aircraft to Tunisia for an estimated $234 million, and in late 2020 the Tunisian defence ministry announced eight T-6C trainers were being acquired, in addition to four AT-6C light attack aircraft.
On 11 June 2021 the US Department of Defence announced that Textron Aviation Defence had been awarded a $12 million contract for long lead items and an in-country basing survey for the eight T-6 II trainers for the Tunisian Air Force.
Tunisian Air Force students do their basic training on SF-260s – Tunisia received nine SF-260CTs and 12 SF-260WT Warriors between 1974 and 1978; about 18 SF-260s remain in use. Tunisian student pilots then move on to the jet-powered Aermacchi MB-326, some 10 of which remain in service – they are the survivors of eight MB-326Bs delivered in 1965, and five MB-326LTs and seven single-seat MB-326KT light-attack aircraft delivered in 1977. The T-6Cs will likely fill the gap between the SF-260 and nine surviving Aero L-59Ts (of 12 delivered) that operate in the lead-in fighter training and light-attack roles.
Morocco is the only other African nation that flies T-6s, ordering 24 for $185 million in October 2009. These were delivered from 2011.
The T-6 is a development of the Swiss Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainer and was developed to fill the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System role for the US Air Force and the US Navy. The C model is a further refinement of the T-6A Texan II with an integrated glass cockpit, advanced avionics suite and hard-point wings that can accommodate auxiliary fuel tanks. In addition to the hard-point wings, the T-6C’s upgraded avionics include a Head-Up Display, Up Front Control Panel, three Multifunction Displays and Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) controls. This equipment mirrors the systems and capabilities of front-line strike fighter aircraft, while retaining all the inherent training and flying characteristics of the T-6 trainer.
The AT-6C Wolverine light attack aircraft has seven hardpoints, allowing it to carry 1 860 kg of ordnance including HMP-400 .50 calibre machineguns, Mk 81 and Mk 82 unguided bombs, GBU-12, GUB-58, GBU-49 and GBU-59 Paveway II guided bombs, laser-guided rockets, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and flares.
Targeting is through an MX-15D multi-sensor suite with colour and infrared cameras, laser designator, laser illuminator and laser rangefinder.
Both the T-6C and AT-6 share an 85% commonality in structure, avionics, and other systems.