Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Britain's Royal Air Force conducted the first test of the Texan T1 training aircraft Friday at the RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey, Wales.
Britain is investing $1.6 billion in fixed-wing aircraft training under the Military Flight Training System to train and prepare junior pilots for the frontline.
"It was a privilege to be the first RAF pilot to fly a Texan T1 from an RAF station today, and to have been part of the team that has brought this excellent training aircraft into service," the unidentified first pilot to fly the plane, said in a news release. "The Texan is a great aircraft to fly, extremely capable and has the ability to better prepare students for the demands of modern fast jet flying than ever before."
Pilots start their training with the Prefect, before moving on to the new Texan T1 and completing the training program on the Hawk T2.
The Texas T1, a single-engine turboprop aircraft, will replace the Tucano. Eventually, 10 Texan T1s -- the last of which was delivered in December -- will become operational within the Ministry of Defense, according to Flight Global.
"It's crucial that our fighter pilots of the future train on the very best equipment before reaching the front line to protect U.K. airspace at home and defend our interests abroad," Defense Minister Stuart Andrew said in a statement. "The introduction of the Texan T1 into one of NATO's most advanced Fighter Pilot training programmes demonstrates the RAF's commitment to investing in world-leading technology to maintain a military advantage over our adversaries."
The T1 can simulate missions in fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft, including the F-35 Lightning and Typhoon. It has a maximum speed of 316 knots per hour, a range of 884 nautical miles and an altitude of 31,000 feet, according to the Royal Air Force.
"The Texan is the ideal lead-in trainer to the Hawk T2 advanced jet trainer that they will fly here at Valley," said Wing Commander Chris Ball, the commanding officer of the Texan Integration Squadron at RAF Valley.
Textron Aviation Defense, which was formerly Beechcraft Defense Company, builds the Texans at its factory in Wichita, Kan.
Outside of Britain, the planes are known as the T-6A Texan II. They are used by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy for training as well as Argentina, Britain, Canada, Greece, Israel, Mexico, Morocco and New Zealand.