The T-X is In

After countless attempts to get a replacement for the T-38 Talon, the T-X trainer program is finally in the Air Force budget that just went to the Pentagon leadership, Air Education and Training Command chief Gen. Robin Rand said Wednesday. “The Chief and the Secretary insisted” the T-X be part of the Future Years Defense Plan, Rand said in remarks at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. While he couldn’t specify the amount requested, Rand said it will grow rapidly in the coming years, and is aimed toward providing a capability in the early 2020s. Requirements are being developed now—very much in partnership with industry—and will be completed next summer, Rand reported. The T-X will have other roles besides undergraduate pilot training, but those—such as lead-in fighter training, service as an Aggressor aircraft, for example—are still being hashed out, Rand said. USAF will be “as transparent as we can” with industry to ensure the requirements are thoroughly understood, he said, but he denied there is any preference for an off-the-shelf solution. The successful airplane will have to provide a good “bridge” for students going on to fifth generation F-22 and F-35 fighters, he added. It will also have to play in the live-virtual-constructive training systems now being developed.