by Dario Leone
USAF to base first T-X unit at JB San Antonio-Randolph

The first T-X aircraft will arrive in Texas in 2022

On Feb. 21, 2018 the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has selected Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, as the preferred location for the first T-X unit.

The T-X program aims to replace the Northrop T-38 advanced jet trainer with a new platform.

According to the U.S. Air Force press release the first aircraft will arrive in Texas in 2022.

The other locations include Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; Laughlin AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Vance AFB, Oklahoma.

Current pilot training installations rely on a unique runway structure and special-use airspace capable of supporting high volume pilot training which makes them ideal for the new aircraft.

“As we bring the T-X training aircraft into service, we’ll base them at our current undergraduate pilot training bases which have the airspace and runways needed for the mission,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson.

The new trainer will provide student pilots with the skills and competencies required to transition into 4th and 5th generation fighter aircraft.

“We need the T-X program to properly train our pilots to fly our growing fleet of 5th generation aircraft,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein. “This new training capability will enable pilots to receive realistic training in a system similar to our fielded fighters.”

Basing the T-X at JB San Antonio-Randolph first, home to Air Force instructor pilot training, is an essential step to establishing a T-X instructor pilot pipeline and sets the conditions to transition to T-X training at the other flying training locations.

The Air Force will now begin the required environmental analyses at all of the existing undergraduate pilot locations. Final basing decisions are dependent on the outcome of the environmental analyses.

The Air Force expects to award a contract for the new aircraft in 2018.

USAF to base first T-X unit at JB San Antonio-Randolph

Noteworthy three T-X offerings will be competing for the $16.3 billion contract. Italy’s Leonardo announced that it will submit a modified version of its M-346 advanced trainer after pulling out of its partnership with Raytheon last year, while Boeing is partnering with Saab on T-X clean-sheet design. Finally Lockheed Martin is offering the T-50A which the company has jointly developed with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

Photo credit: Boeing and Lockheed Martin

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