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  T-X: The race to replace the (Air Force) T-38

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Author Topic:   T-X: The race to replace the (Air Force) T-38
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 38342
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-22-2017 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Air&Space magazine reports on the jets competing to replace the T-38 and become the next U.S. Air Force trainer. Though there is no explicit mention of NASA (or even its use of the T-38), one can't help but wonder if the "T-X" will eventually train astronauts, too...
In early 2018, the Air Force intends to ... award a contract worth up to $16 billion to replace its 431 remaining T-38s with 350 brand-new trainers, dubbed "T-X" until a formal designation is chosen. If the plan holds, the first of the new two-seat jets will join the Air Force by late 2023, along with state-of-art ground-based simulators.

Four (perhaps five) teams have submitted bids to build the T-X, and the two front runners are dominant players in the global military aircraft industry: Boeing, in partnership with Saab AG of Sweden, and Lockheed Martin, teamed with Korean Aerospace Industries. Some observers believe that Italian company Leonardo (via its U.S. subsidiary, Leonardo DRS) has an outside chance of winning the Air Force contract. The two other entities in contention — upstart Stavatti Aerospace and small contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation (with Turkish Aerospace Industries) — are considered extreme longshots; though cited by the Congressional Research Service as a potential candidate, Sierra Nevada has not publicly confirmed or denied entering the competition.


Posts: 1092
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 11-22-2017 11:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems highly unlikely to me that NASA would get funded to purchase a number of factory-fresh modern jet trainers. The Air Force requirements mentioned in the article (sustained high G, air-to-air refueling) are not the things NASA would require for their crews.

I would think that if and when NASA declares their T-38 fleet obsolete — which may well happen once the parts inventory dries up when the AF retires theirs — they would probably get older military jets. Maybe more of the F-18's or similar. Of course, going single engine is more economical (F-16), but I don't know JSC or CB's position on that in regard to safety. There probably aren't too many two-seaters to be had anyway.

The "wings and wheels" days at NASA are over, and aside from bringing the non-pilots up to speed on working as a crew in a "high stress" environment, the jets are mainly for proficiency and transportation. Not something you need a Ferrari for...


Posts: 1278
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 11-24-2017 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Poster 328KF summed it up pretty well.

The T-X competition is certainly interesting to anyone following aerospace or defense issues, but its outcome is of little forseeable relevance to NASA.

That said, I'm already stifling a little *sob* for when those beautiful T-38s are retired. Whatever follows will never look as good.

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