The "T-6" was made to replace the outdated "Tzukit" (Fouga Magister). The new model is much more cost efficient, as it features a single Turboprop engine, compared with the double jet engines of the "Tzukit". The newer technology allows the "T-6" to develop the same power levels, at significantly lower maintenance costs and much lower fuel consumption.
Presently there are over 400 "T-6" jets in active duty worldwide, training the next generation of pilots.
Beyond the traditional red-and-white coloring of the Israeli Air Force Flight Academy, the main difference between the Israeli "T-6" and the ones flying around the world is the debriefing system installed on board of the aircraft.The debriefing system chosen for the "T-6" aircraft is manufactured by "Rada", the manufacturer of debriefing systems installed on all Israeli air-force fighter jets. The aim in selecting the same supplier is to familiarize the cadets with the technology, and to assure that the debriefing during the course is as similar as possible to the real thing the pilots will face in active duty.
The first four "T-6"s will require post-delivery installation, while the following aircrafts will arrive to Israel with the systems preinstalled.
In addition to being convenient and simple to operate, the "T-6" is considered a highly safe aircraft to operate. Even though it has only one engine (unlike its predecessor which had two), the "T-6" features ejection seats, which have been successfully deployed in several emergency landings in various parts of the world, and saved several lives already.
The use of the Turboprop engine is the greatest single difference between the "T-6" and its predecessor, the "Tzukit", and requires special attention during pilot training;
The single engine creates a unique physical effect: when the engine is shot down, the plane shifts a bit to the right, and when the engine is restarted, the plane shifts to the left. The shifts need to be compensated by steering the aircraft to a direction opposite of the shift. This is a new training component, that requires both instructor's and cadet's attention.
Another important aspect of the "T-6" model is the engine shut-down protocol. On a single engine plane the technique is different than that of a double engine plane, as the engine cannot be entirely shut down (nothing will hold the plane in the air). Instead, the engine needs to be reduced to zero power, but kept running. This aspect is practiced on the new "T-6" simulator, which comes with the newly purchased planes.