This could have been the successor to the venerable T-Bird. Instead it became a footnote in aircraft history...

The cute T-46 looked like the unlikely spawn of a Fairchild
A-10 'Thunderbolt II' and a Cessna T-37 'Tweet'...

When it was rolled out in 1984, the T-46's future seemed bright.

84-0492 displayed at Edwards AFB Open House in Nov.1985.

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 -493]
                   one T-46A production article [85-1596, -1597/1605 canceled]

Wingspan: 11.78 m
Length: 8.99 m
Height: 3.86 m
Wing area: 14.95 m²
Aspect ratio: 9.3

Empty weight: 2,351 kg
Maximum take-off weight: 3,092 kg
Internal fuel capacity: 572 kg

Maximum speed: 736 km/h at 7,620 m
Maximum cruise speed: 712 km/h at 10,670 m
Economic cruise speed: 616 km/h at 13,720 m
Maximum initial rate of climb: 22.7 m/s
Service ceiling: 14,175 m
Ferry range: 2,130 km
Wing loading at maximum take-off weight: 207 kg/m²
Thrust-to-weight ratio at maximum take-off weight: 0.39
Take-off distance: 366 m
Landing distance: 343 m

Crew/passengers: 2

Very special thanks to Alain Ratinaud for allowing me
to use his magnificent work on these pages.

Main sources:
- Global Security
- Cradle of Aviation Museum
- Goleta Air & Space Museum (AFFTC Annex)
- Alain Ratinaud, 30 ans, ingénieur mécanicien

After cancellation of the T-46 program, the two test articles were
stored at the Davis Monthan AFB storage facility in Arizona.

Today, 84-492 is preserved at the Goleta Air & Space Museum,
whie 84-493 is in Pima Air Museum near Tucson, Arizona.

Republic expected to sell an attack version of the aircraft
overseas, yet the end of the NGT program ended not only
the project, but also the company's activity in aviation.