T-38 Talon

The T-38 was the first supersonic trainer aircraft and primarily serves AETC’s advanced JSUPT fighter/bomber tracks and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals.

The aircraft is used to teach supersonic techniques, aerobatics, formation, night and instrument flying, and cross-country/ low-level navigation. The T-38 is also used by the USAF Test Pilot School to train test pilots and flight-test engineers and by ACC and AFGSC as a companion trainer to maintain pilot proficiency. ACC uses regenerated T-38s as dedicated Aggressor aircraft for F-22 training and companion trainers for the U-2 program.

T-38Bs are equipped with a gunsight and centerline station for mounting external stores including ECM pod/practice bomb dispensers. Aircraft were redesignated T-38Cs after avionics modernization that added a glass cockpit and HUD, color MFDs, mission computer, integrated INS/GPS, and reshaped engine inlets.

T-38s were designed for 7,000 flying hours but many have surpassed 20,000 hours, requiring life-extension to bridge the gap to replacement by the T-7A. Pacer Classic III is the type’s third structural renewal effort and the most intensive in its history. It replaces major longerons, bulkheads/formers, intakes, internal skins, and structural floors on 180 high-risk T-38Cs.

The first airframe was redelivered in 2015 and a total of 19 aircraft will complete upgrades in FY21. Additional efforts include wing replacement through 2033, a new forward canopy to improve bird-strike survivability, and low-cost safety mods. Development encompasses digital avionics, replacement HUD, VHF nav/comms, and airspace compliance.

AETC plans to begin replacing its T-38s with the T-7A starting at Laughlin in 2033.

Contractors: Northrop Grumman; Boeing (sustainment); CPI Aerostructures (Pacer Classic III kits); Israel Aerospace Industries (re-wing).
First Flight: April 1959 (T-38A); July 8, 1998 (T-38C).
Delivered: 1961-72 (T-38A); 2002-07 (T-38C).
IOC: March 1961.
Production: 1,187.
Inventory: 53 (T-38A); six (AT-38B); 443 (T-38C).
Aircraft Location: Beale AFB and Edwards AFB, Calif.; Columbus AFB, Miss.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; JB Langley-Eustis, Va.; JBSA-Randolph and Sheppard AFB, Texas; JB Langley-Eustis, Va.; Eglin AFB and Tyndall AFB, Fla., Vance AFB, Okla.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.
Active Variants: •T-38A. Upgraded version with Pacer Classic I and II mods. •AT-38B. Armed weapons training version. •T-38C. Modernized airframes incorporating glass cockpits and upgraded engines.
Dimensions: Span 25.3 ft, length 46.3 ft, height 12.8 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 12,093 lb.
Power Plant: Two General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojets, each 2,900 lb thrust with afterburning.
Performance: Speed 812 mph, range 1,093 miles.
Ceiling: 55,000 ft+.
Accommodation: Two pilots on Martin Baker MK16T zero/zero ejection seats.

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