Customer: United States Air Force (USAF)
Type: side-by-side advanced jet trainer
Program: Next Generation Trainer (NGT)
Powerplant: 2 x 602 kgp (1,326 lbf / 5.9 kN) Garrett F109-GA-100
First flight: October 1985
On 2 July 1982, following Air Force evaluation of the Model 73 NGT Flight Demonstrator, Fairchild Republic was named winner of the NGT programme, with what became known as the T-46A Eaglet, or more affectionately as the "Thunder Piglet". The fact that FRC won the the T-46A contract was due in part to the excellent technical validation of the basic aircraft concept provided by the NGT Flight Demonstrator.The initial contract called for two T-46A full scale development (FSD) aircraft, two static airframes and options on a further 54 T-46As out of a planned total of 650 aircraft for the USAF. The T-46 first flew in October 1985 and all flight tests were successful. Designed with simplicity, stability and low operating costs in mind, it was expected that the Air Force would purchase 650 of the trainers through 1993 and that they would serve well into the 21st century.
Delivery of the T-46A was planned to began in 1987 and the last was excepted to be delivered to the USAF in March 1992. The production rate would have been 12 examples per month in 1992. A light attack version had even been planned for export (just the way the T-37 'Tweet' had spawned the successful 'Dragonfly' COIN aircraft). However, the T-46 was overweight with its two Garrett two-shaft turbofans, and had greater drag than predicted, which annoyed the Air Force. Eventually, due to budget cuts, it was decided that upgrading existing trainers and resorting to piston-engined trainers instead would be less costly solutions, and the Air Force terminated the T-46 program in March 1987 after only two YT-46A prototypes and the first production T-46A were completed, with a fourth airframe nearly completed.
Soon after, Fairchild announced the closing of the former Republic plant in Farmingdale, as this was their only aircraft contract. And so, late in 1987, Republic Aviation Corporation dismissed its remaining 3,500 employees at Farmingdale and was forced to close after over 50 years of continuously producing military aircraft.
Population: two YT-46A prototypes [84-492 and