PICTURE: US Air Force retires its last T-37 Tweet trainers

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The US Air Force has retired its last Cessna T-37 Tweet jet trainers, with seven of the aircraft having been flown from Sheppard AFB in Texas for the last time on 31 July.

Replaced by the new-generation Beechcraft T-6A Texan II turboprop, four of the USAF's final T-37s were flown to its Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona for storage, with the other three allocated for use at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill AFB.

 
© Harry Toneman/US Air Force
The USAF's last T-37s left Sheppard AFB on 31 July

"The T-6 is a highly capable replacement," says Gen Donald Hoffman, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command. "We are still going through some growing pains, but it is much better suited to prepare student pilots for today's aircraft and those that will come in the future."

More than 1,000 Tweets were built for the USAF, which says the fleet supported the instruction of more than 78,000 domestic, NATO and other international pilots after entering use in 1956.

The retirement of the last US-operated T-37s reduces the global fleet of the type to around 116 aircraft, according to Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The Tweet remains in use with the air forces of Bangladesh, Colombia, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, it says.