The Mystery Airplane
Raytheon (Beech) T-1A Jayhawk
June 1, 2019
To cover its needs for liaison, medevac, training, and light cargo, the USAF has acquired "off the shelf" civilian business aircraft. Examples have included the Beech King Air, Cessna Citation, Gates Learjet, Gulfstream, Lockheed Jetstar, and North American Sabreliner. To train students for tanker and airlift operations, the Air Force ordered a converted version of the Beechjet 400A.
The T-1A began life as the eight passenger Mitsubishi MU-300 Diamond, first flying on 29 August 1978. After Mitsubishi manufactured 100 aircraft, production changed to Wichita with Beech as the Beechjet 400. This was followed by the 400A with larger cabin and a glass cockpit. Modified for the Air Force's TTTS, or Tanker/Training System, the T-1A was first delivered in January 1992. Compared to the Beechjet 400A, it had fewer cabin windows, increased fuel capacity, a re-enforced windscreen and wing leading edges for bird strike protection, and a strengthened undercarriage. It carries a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot, and instructor), has a service ceiling of 41,000 feet, a range of 2900 miles, and a maximum speed of Mach 0.70.
The first T-1A was delivered to Reese AFB, Texas and instruction began in 1993. Assigned to Air Education and Training Command, the Jayhawk also serves at Randolph, Columbus, Laughlin, and Vance Air Force Bases, and in the case of 92-348 with the tail code "AP" shown in this Oshkosh 2018 photo, with 479th Flying Training Group at NAS Pensacola, Florida, for navigator/combat systems officer training. The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force also uses the T-400 for crew training.