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The US Navy’s search for a replacement for its long-serving Boeing T-45 Goshawk jet trainer appears to be nearing a key milestone. Budget documents released earlier this month indicate a potential procurement start date as early as 2026 for the Undergraduate Jet Training System (UJTS) program.

This development comes nearly six years after the Navy initiated its investigation into a T-45 replacement. Interestingly, the focus is not on a carrier-launched aircraft. The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) seeks a twin-seat, land-based jet trainer capable of simulating carrier landings for both Navy and Marine Corps pilots.

In response to the Navy’s Request for Information (RFI), India offered its HAL Tejas aircraft in the Lead-in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) variant. However, the Indian Navy itself has reservations about the Tejas’ weight for carrier operations and is exploring its use for technology development on future carrier fighters.

Boeing, a major player in the US defense industry, is also in the running with its T-7A Red Hawk trainer, already chosen by the Air Force. The company has expressed willingness to develop a Navy-specific variant of the T-7A if required.

With the 2026 procurement date on the horizon, the UJTS program is poised to intensify competition between Boeing and potential contenders. Key factors to watch include the specific technical proposals submitted and how well they align with the Navy’s training needs. Additionally, cost-effectiveness and potential for future upgrades will likely play a significant role in the final decision.

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