US Navy TW-2 Celebrates One Million Flight Hours with T-45 Goshawk

US Navy TW-2 Celebrates One Million Flight Hours with T-45 Goshawk

A TW-2 T-45C operates from the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in 2014. The Navy’s new training aircraft, for now, will not be carrier-capable. (Photo credit: USN/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Justin R. Pacheco)

The T-45C Goshawk aircraft has achieved another milestone as the U.S. Navy considers its future successor.

Naval Air Station Kingsville’s Training Air Wing 2 (TW-2) recently achieved a major milestone with its McDonnell Douglas/Boeing T-45C Goshawk fleet – 1,000,000 flight hours. And that’s not counting hours logged by other jet squadrons.

During a ceremony held on the Kingsville Airport tarmac on July 7, 2024, the Chief of Naval Aviation Training (CNATRA), Boeing representatives and Kingsville, Texas city officials gathered to celebrate the achievement.

“On May 1, 1992, the first class of flight instructors from VT-21 assigned to pilot the next generation of naval aviators in the new T-45A Goshawk began their training in the T-45. On February 26, 2024, 30 years and one month after the Navy achieved full operational capability (with) the T-45, 1st Lt. Thomas “Sock” Cruz of VT-22, flying aircraft 267, BuNo 165067, surpassed his one millionth flight hour in the T-45 during a basic fighter maneuver here at NAS Kingsville, Texas,” announced Capt. Aaron “Princess” Rybar, TW-2 commodore.

Capt. Aaron Rybar, commander of Training Wing-2, addresses the crowd during a memorial ceremony aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, July 2. (Photo credit: USN/ENS Alan Wang)

Training Squadron 22 (VT-22), the squadron that had the honor of achieving the milestone, began as ATU-6 at NAS Corpus Christi in 1949 flying the Lockheed T2V SeaStar. After moving to NAS Whiting Field later that year, they moved again to their current home at NAS Kingsville in 1951. The squadron has been flying the T-45 since 1994. It is one of two training squadrons attached to TW-2.

The second squadron, Training Squadron 21 (VT-21), began flight operations using the T-45A in 1991. The squadron was established in 1951 as Advanced Training Unit 202 (ATU-202) and assigned to flight training operations using the Grumman F6F Hellcat.

A U.S. Navy T-45C Goshawk aircraft assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 22 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Atlantic Ocean on September 30, 2014. Harry S. Truman was conducting carrier qualifications. (Photo credit: USN Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Justin R. Pacheco)

Interestingly, this milestone comes at a time when the plane’s future successor is uncertain. The Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS) program was originally scheduled to announce the contract winner in fiscal year 2026, but the decision was pushed back to fiscal year 2028.

As for the T-45, the Navy sees itself needing a replacement due to several past issues, including oxygen supply issues and the recent grounding of the entire fleet due to an “in-flight engine failure,” the second grounding in as many years. The problem also affects the aircraft on which the T-45 was based, the BAE Systems Hawk, which flies in the U.K., India and other countries.

The T-45, which has only been flying since 1988, 36 years ago, is relatively new compared to other airframes currently flown by the U.S. military. Its Air Force counterpart, the T-38 Talon, is 65 years old.

The U.S. Navy is currently in the process of choosing between the Boeing-Saab T-7 (the winner of the Air Force’s T-X program to replace the T-38), the Lockheed Martin-KAI T-50, and the Leonardo-Textron M-346N. Interestingly, Navy officials have all but decided that the replacement aircraft will not need to be carrier-capable and will not have a catch-all—for now. The current plan is to remove carrier qualifications from the training program altogether, instead relying on Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP), which involves landing aircraft on a short runway on land. Conversely, all three competitors would have to make major, expensive redesigns of their entries to make them suitable for carrier operations.

According to the Request for Information, the agreement is to purchase a total of 145 replacement aircraft, at a rate of 25 aircraft per year. The agreement will include aircraft, simulators and operational equipment, as well as a training program.

Andrew Stover is an aviation and history enthusiast based in West Virginia, USA. He has experience as a KC-135 boom operator and a petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) specialist. He is a college student specializing in history and adventure media. In his free time, he enjoys Mountaineer football, Blue Jackets hockey, and watching airplanes.