Alternatives to T-38

USAF must start considering a replacement for its elderly T-38 trainer that is not only economical but will successfully bridge the gap between 4th and 5th generation aircraft, Gen. Stephen Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command, told reporters Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. “It’s a solid, great trainer; however, there are issues with a 43-year-old airplane,” Lorenz said. He added: “We’ve updated it. We’ve worked on it, but sometime in the future we need to make a decision as a nation, as the Air Force, on when we need a new trainer.” Lorenz noted that a new F-22 pilot will train on the T-38, but then must fly a number of sorties in the F-16—another 4th gen aircraft but more advanced than the T-38—before he advances to fly the F-22 or eventually the F-35. An new analysis of alternatives is looking at everything from modernizing the existing trainer to developing a T-X. If the option is T-X, the service wouldn’t necessarily replace the 450 T-38s one for one. Lorenz said it would depend on such things as the simulators that are chosen, the number of flight hours required, and the environment.