In March of 2015, the United States Air Force released its requirements for its Northrop T-38C Talon combat aircraft trainer replacement program, known as T-X. According to USAF Brigadier General Dawn Dunlop, the T-38 is unable to complete 12 of 18 advanced pilot training tasks, which forces the Air Force to rely on fighter and bomber formal training units to complete the training at a much greater cost. Northrop Grumman, the designer and manufacturer of the T-38 Talon twin-jet trainer, has built 1,187 of these aircraft to date and over 60,000 pilots have trained in them since it entered service in 1961 when it was the world’s first supersonic trainer. More than 500 remained in service with the US Air Force and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and it is also in service with the armed forces of Germany (40 aircraft), South Korea (30), Taiwan (40) and Turkey (69).
The US Army considers the T-38 to be obsolete in many respects. "Cockpit and sensor management are fundamentally different today in 4th- and 5th-generation aircraft than it was when the T-38 was built in 1961," the Brigadier General said in a press statement. Furthermore, the fleet's age and condition has made sustainment difficult. According to Brig Gen Dunlop, the T-38s assigned to AETC, for example, "have not met the command's requirement for 75% availability since 2011, meaning many are not mission capable and unavailable for training". The USAF is looking for three key performance characteristics for the advanced pilot training mission. These characteristics include sustained G, simulator visual acuity and performance, and aircraft sustainment, with a specific focus on embedded training with synthetic sensors and data link. Five companies are already competing for the contract. However, Northrop Grumman is not out of the race. The company recently announced that it is developing a new aircraft design for the T-X competition due to what it saw as an evolution in the USAF's requirements. According to the USAF's fiscal year 2016 (FY 2016) budget request, they are slated to award a contract about a year after the release of a request for proposals (RFP). The FY 2016 budget contains a request for USD$11.4 million for T-X research and development. The funding request is planned to consistently increase over the Future Year Defense Program (FYDP) with USD$12.2 million in 2017, USD$107.2 million in 2018, USD$262.8 million in 2019, and USD$275.9 million in 2020.
The army is expected to buy 300-400 of these updated aircraft. Via our proprietary website ASAP Fasteners, ASAP Semiconductor is a leading supplier of Grumman Aerospace products
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