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ST. LOUIS — The Boeing Company received a $28.3 million contract on Jan. 21 for two Virtual Mission Training System (VMTS) retrofit kits that will integrate low-cost, realistic radar training into the U.S. Navy’s T-45 Training System for undergraduate military flight officers (UMFO). Flight officers are the “backseaters” who operate weapons and electronic warfare systems.

“VMTS will enrich the UMFO’s weapons-and-tactics curriculum, producing flight officers who are better prepared for carrier strike-fighter and electronic-attack duty,” said Barbara Wilson, director and program manager of T-45 Training Systems for Boeing.

This phase of the VMTS program, which follows a requirements-definition phase, is scheduled for completion in September 2011. It calls for Boeing to finalize design, procure hardware, modify two aircraft and flight-test the system. The work involves T-45C aircraft and ground-station systems assigned to Training Air Wing 6, Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla. An additional 18 aircraft will be retrofitted with the system during the program’s third phase, if funded.

VMTS provides an unclassified, mechanically scanned tactical radar that simulates air-to-air and air-to-ground modes as well as weapons and electronic warfare. These functions can be networked between the participating aircraft and instructor ground stations. The system will provide in-flight training against virtual enemy aircraft, including cooperative training with both real and virtual aircraft.

Boeing is currently under contract for 221 T-45 Goshawk trainer aircraft and recently rolled out the 215th from its St. Louis assembly facility. The two-seat Goshawk forms the heart of the fully integrated T-45 training system, which is in use at NAS Kingsville, Texas, and NAS Meridian, Miss., as well as at NAS Pensacola. The system includes high-fidelity instrument and flight simulators, computer-assisted classrooms and courseware, and a computerized training management asset.

Described by instructor-pilots as “eminently forgiving,” the T-45 is the only jet trainer designed to land routinely at sink rates of greater than 700 feet per minute, which are required for aircraft carrier-approach landings. The Goshawk has logged more than 870,000 flight-hours and 59,000 aircraft carrier catapult launches and arrested landings since entering service in 1992 and has sseen approximately 3,500 Navy, Marine Corps and international student aviators earn their wings.

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