In 1995, the selection of Beech Aircraft Corporation of Wichita, Kansas, to develop and deliver the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) was made. The aircraft would be manufactured by Raytheon, Beechraft's parent company, starting in the late 1990s and into the early 21st century. The companies that initially responded and competed were Vought, Northrop, Grumman, Rockwell, Beechcraft, Lockheed, and Cessna. However, by the time the selection was over, Northrop, Grumman, and Vought were all part of same larger company. Over 700 JPATS are intended to be bought over time.
In 1988, the United States Navy (USN) and the United States Air Force (USAF) were at a unique moment in history; they reached a point where they could work together, and provide a cost-effective solution to pilot production, specifically primary training. Both services needed to modernize their fleets of training aircraft.
The USAF and the USN cleared the first major obstacle on the subject of commonality. Each service preferred a different seating configuration. The USAF preferred the side-by-side configuration, while the USN preferred the tandem configuration. These preferences may have been due to each service’s previous experience in training aircraft. The T-37 is a side-by-side configuration, while the T-34C is a tandem arrangement. The hurdle was cleared when both services agreed on the tandem configuration.
The process took fourteen months and entailed evaluations of seven aircraft, seven cockpit mockups, and thousands of pages of contractor proposals.
Beechcraft/Raytheon, with a modified (70% redesign) Swiss Pilatus PC-9 Mk 2 aircraft, was awarded the prime contract on 22 June 1995. The contract contained a nine-year period of performance through FY2004, and a production run continuing through FY2017. Concurrent with the contract award, Raytheon Aircraft Company (RAC) was also provided the GBTS Request for Contract Change Proposal (CCP).
It was designated under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system, skipping some numbers use the same name and nickname as the older T-6 Texan which, while also used under the Post 1962 system, had been originally designated in a holder system. The T-1 Jayhawk "overwrote" the T-1 Seastar, but the Seastar had been named under the 1962 system also.
In 1994 Grumman and Northrop merged to form Northrop Grumman*
Vought was bought by Northrop from LTV in 1992*