Has it been 50 years already?
The US Air Force revealed yesterday it wants to replace the venerable Northrop T-38C Talon by 2017 with a new "family" of jet and simulator systems that can do five things: sustained high-g maneuvers, air-to-air intercepts, data-link operations, night vision imaging and air refueling.
The USAF listed its performance requirements for the so-called T-X contract in a second request for information to potential bidders. The first RFI issued in March asked vendors to supply only general information about their manufacturing and design capabilities. In the second round, the USAF wants to know specific information about the capabilities of the competing aircraft.
The replacement for the T-38C's has been delayed several times in the past. The USAF believes it can keep the current fleet flying safely through 2020, but hardly a moment longer. A fatal crash last year grounded the T-38 fleet after investigators found that it was caused by a single part that failed due to age.
Replacing the USAF's 50-year-old T-38 fleet of more than 550 jets is seen as the prize for the military jet trainer market. The contenders for the deal include the KAI/Lockheed T-50 Golden Eagle, BAE Systems Hawk and AleniaAermacchi M346, with the latter already eyeing the opportunity to compete as a prime contractor for the first time for a major US contract.
I noticed the USAF has asked the potential vendors to specify if their aircraft shares common parts "with any other operational aircraft". I wonder if this is a veiled reference to the T-50s commonality with the Lockheed F-16?