Friday, October 19, 2012

AF Needs New Training Aircraft

Earlier this week, Loren B. Thompson, Ph.D., of Lexington Institute, crafted an op-ed on the Air Force's need for a new training aircraft.

"What do the Air Force's F-15, F-16, and F-22 fighters all have in common? Answer: They are all operated by pilots who learned to fly jets on the T-38 Talon trainer. Question Two: What else do they do they have in common? Answer: They all joined the force after the last T-38 was produced in 1972.

The answers to these two questions explain why Air Force leaders are determined to find a replacement for the T-38. The Talon has been around for a long, long time -- 45 years on average for the T-38s still in the fleet -- and planes that old typically start to exhibit age-related problems like metal fatigue, corrosion and parts obsolescence. If this were just a maintenance issue, then the service could continue spending over a million dollars a week on upgrades to keep the T-38s airworthy. But it has gotten to the point where there is also a concern about safety."

Read the rest of the article here:

In this year's Statement of Policy, we talk about the Air Force's plans to begin large-scale recapitalization in the 2020s, when it expects to acquire large numbers of the stealthy F-35 multirole fighter and the KC-46 tanker, plus a T-38 trainer replacement, and a new long-range strike aircraft. That's thirty years' worth of deferred buys now scheduled for a single decade -- a process that will prove challenging even under the best conditions. And today's environment is no where near "best conditions."

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