Deliberate Pace for Next-gen Trainer

The Air Force needs a new trainer aircraft, provisionally dubbed the T-X, to prepare fighter and bomber pilots to fly its fifth generation aircraft, but officials have not yet determined how many airframes they will procure, what they will look like, or when they will enter the fleet. Those decisions are being weighed now and need to be “balanced” against USAF’s other acquisition priorities, Gen. Edward Rice, commander of Air Education and Training Command, said during a media availability Thursday at the AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla. “I’m comfortable right now that the trade space we’ll be looking at will provide us some options to make this decision in a prudent manner. I’m not concerned right now about our ability to sustain the T-38” through the transition to the T-X, said Rice. He added, “I think we have enough space to do that.” The Air Force has requested about $300 million across its five-year defense plan that starts in Fiscal 2012 for a new trainer, starting with $16 million next fiscal year.