Replacing the T-38 training fleet is secondary concern to the Air Force’s more pressing procurement needs, according to Air Education and Training Command boss Gen. Edward Rice. “We’ve got some other things on the plate that are very important to us,” like the F-35, KC-46, and future long-range bomber, Rice told reporters Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. Accordingly, he said he is comfortable with the service’s Fiscal 2013 budget request that pushes initial operations with the new trainer, dubbed T-X, to 2020. “We have looked very closely at the [T-38] airframe and I’m comfortable that we’ve got space here to make this T-X decision without running into a situation where the airframe is going to become a problem,” explained Rice. He said the Air Force is committed to a T-38 replacement. “It’s not a matter of if we get it, it’s a matter of when, and we’ve got to find the right place and time to put it into the overall budget priorities,” he added.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.