The US Air Force’s advanced jet trainer – the Northrop T-38 Talon – is good to go until 2030. The first aircraft that underwent a major overhaul is back in the fleet, after 8,900 man hours were put into replacing and upgrading structural elements inside the fuselage.
In what is officially called the Pacer Clasic III upgrade things like floors and longerons are renewed, giving the body of the plane more life to fly longer. The work is being done at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas, where another 11 Talons are now going through the hands of the personnel of 575th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Next year another 17 T-38s are planned to undergo the overhaul with a total of 150 Talons upgraded by 2021 when the program ends – giving each aircraft 15 to 20 years of additional service life.
The US Air Force received a massive 1,100 Northrop T-38s – somewhat similar to the F-5 fighter-bomber – between 1961 and 1972. A small number is in use by the US Navy, while NASA keeps a substantial fleet of 32 aircraft. The jets are also used by the German Air Force, which flies 35 of them in US Air Force livery from Sheppard Air Force Base, the Republic of China Air Force (40 aircraft) and Turkey (67).
Source: US Air Force, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The first overhauled (Pacer Classic III) T-38 Talon of the US Air Force (Image © Airman 1st Class Stormy Archer / US Air Force)