The Air Force Academy is buying 25 SR20 airplanes from Cirrus Aircraft of Duluth, Minn., for use in training cadets, reported the Colorado Springs Gazette. These two-seat trainers, which the Air Force is designating T-53As, will replace the academy’s leased fleet of Diamond DA-40s, according to the report. The new aircraft have a digital cockpit; they also come equipped with a built-in parachute called the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System that can be deployed in case of an emergency to control the aircraft’s rate of descent to enable a safe landing, according to the company’s website. The aircraft has a top cruising speed of almost 180 miles per hour and a maximum range of nearly 700 miles. Cadets are expected to begin training with the T-53s next January.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.