Tag Archives: T-38

Turkish Talon Training

A decade or so ago, the Turkish Air Force faced a challenge. Its pilots were trained using aircraft over 30 years old with analogue instruments prior to converting to modern fourth-generation platforms like the F-16. With the arrival of the even more advanced fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II in mind, something had to change. That change materialized as the T-38M Talon, the result of an upgrade program by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Following delivery of the last of 68 revitalized T-38s last year,  Turkish student pilots now get to know the new Talon.

The Turkish Air Force has been flying the modernized T-38M since delivery of the first aircraft in June 2012. The project was initiated in 2007 with a contract for the upgrade of 55 aircraft. An option on a further 13 aircraft was later exercised. The program included an major overhaul plus – more importantly – a new mission computer, multi-function cockpit displays, a head-up display in the front and hands on throttle and stick controls. The first five aircraft, including two prototypes and three production examples, were delivered by TAI after which the Turkish Air Force maintenance center at Eskisehir continued with the remaining airframes.

Originally donated by the dozens by the United States Air Force, the T-38 has been training Turkish pilots since the 1970s and in its new guise will continue to do so until well beyond 2020. Epicentre of it all is Çigli airbase, just north of the country’s third biggest city Izmir. Here, aircraft continuously taxi out, take off, fly overhead and make touch and goes before landing. With many dozens of sorties each day, this is without a doubt Turkey’s busiest airbase.

Talon touchdown on the renewed runway at Çigli airbase near Izmir. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder)
Talon touchdown on the renewed runway at Çigli airbase near Izmir. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)
A KT-1 joins two Talon over the Aegean sea. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder)
A KT-1 joins two Talon over the Aegean sea. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)

Çigli changes

Base commander major general Kubilay Selçuk, a pilot with many hundreds of flight hours in the F-100 Super Sabre, F-104 Starfighter and F-16 Fighting Falcon: “Many things have changed in the past few years. We resurfaced the runways and taxiways, built new ramps with sun sheds and other facilities such as a simulator center. Our modernized T-38Ms, new KT-1Ts turboprop trainers and simulators enable us to train fighter pilots well into the future. Future fighter pilots will not be assets of a command center. They will be a vital part of that command center, collecting more and more information themselves and acting accordingly. We prepare them for that.”

Future pilots all spend a total of three months flying the SF260D, six months flying the KT-1T and another six months flying the T-38M or either the AS532 helicopter or CN235 transport aircraft depending on their next assigment. Advanced jet training in the T-38 includes instrument flying, formations of up to four aircraft, low level navigation and night flying. Every flight is planned on the computer and mission data are then downloaded into the T-38M’s mission computer. After the flight, mission data is uploaded back to the computer enabling very detailed debriefs.”

On their thirteenth T-38M sortie, students go solo. Unlike their counterparts in the US, Turkish students don’t fly supersonic in the Talon. This is reserved for experienced instructors performing check rides.

Çigli is Turkey's busiest airbase with dozens of sorties each day. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder)
Çigli is Turkey’s busiest airbase with dozens of sorties each day. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)
The T-38M's cockpit features a new mission control computer, multi-function cockpit displays, a head-up display in the front and hands on throttle and stick controls(. Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder)
The T-38M’s cockpit features a new mission computer, multi-function cockpit displays, a head-up display in the front and hands on throttle and stick controls(. Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)

Training method

A unique training method links each student with his or her instructor pilot, says base commander Selçuk. Students all have different types of intelligence and methods in which they best absorb information. This could be visual intelligence, listening intelligence or emotional intelligence, for example. A survey before entering flight training links their specific learning style to an instructor with a similar teaching style. These adjustments and the commissioning of the new simulator center enables the students to acquire more information in a shorter time frame. For example, T-38 students now fly 69 real sorties instead of 81 in the past.

Pilot demand

The demand for new fighter pilots is large and this is reflected in the number of instructors being assigned. Instructor pilots are accepted as first assignment instructor pilots (FAIP) and they are taken from operational units. Between 2000 and 2014, close to 500 instructor pilots were trained at Çigli airbase. A peak was reached in 2011 when 52 new instructors arrived, but currently around 30 new instructor pilots arrive each year.

A student pilot and his instructor, plus a Lockheed T-38M Talon. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder)
A student pilot and his instructor, plus a Lockheed T-38M Talon. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)
One of the first modernized T-38s, seen here in 2011 at Çigli airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
One of the first modernized T-38s, seen here in 2011 at Çigli airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

New role

A relatively new role to Çigli airbase and the T-38 is the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF). The role was taken over from 133 Filo (squadron) flying the F-5 at Konya airbase following the F-5’s retirement in 2013. The IFF phase consists of a single air intercept sortie, six basic fighter manoeuvre sorties and eight air-to-ground sorties over a nearby reserve airbase. Since the T-38 cannot carry any armament, all weapon deliveries are simulated. The aim of this phase is for students to learn how to employ their aircraft as a weapons systems, rather than ‘simply’ flying it. Completing this phase smoothens their conversion to the F-16.

In the US, the T-38 is the subject of the T-X program that looks for a replacement in the next decade or so. The Turkish Air Force expects to be able to fly the T-38M until around two years after the United States Air Force stops operating the Talon, meaning the aircraft could stay in service until at least 2030. The Turkish Air Foroce recently started first preparations for the selection of a new jet trainer aircraft. It should probably enter service in the second half of the next decade. All in all, plenty of Turkish Talon training time left.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com contributor Dirk Jan de Ridder
Featured image: Two T-38M Talons fly over the beautiful Aegean Sea near Çigli airbase. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)

Plenty of Turkish Talon training time left. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder)
Plenty of Turkish Talon training time left. (Image © Dirk Jan de Ridder / www.ridder.aero)

Raytheon & Finmeccanica join T-X race

UPDATED 24 February | US defense company Rayhteon and Finmeccanica have formally joined the T-X race to develop and deliver a new jet trainer aircraft for the US Air Force, Raytheon officialy announced on Monday 22 February. Their proposal will be based on the M-346 Master currently in service in Italy, Singapore and Israel.

Update | A fresh report by defensenews.com indicates Textron AirLand will not bid in the T-X program.

Raytheon and Finmeccanica will further develop the FNM Aeronautics (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 into the T-100 jet trainer that prepares future pilots for high performance military jets such as the F-35 Lightning II. It’s cockpit is expected to share many commonalities with the F-35, such as a large MFD. Honeywell Aerospace supplies F124 turbofan engines to power the T-100.

Program

In the T-X program, the US looks for at least 350 of such aircraft to replace the current fleet of T-38 Talon jets, a type that has trained military pilots for decades and has seen several upgrades but now nears the end of its life.

An FNV Aeronautics M-346 at Lecce airbase in Italy. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
An FNM Aeronautics M-346 at Lecce airbase in Italy. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Lead-in

The M-346 is used as a Lead-in Fighter Trainer (LIFT). The jet is capable of advanced training by using tactical simulation as well as datalink equipment. It can provide its pilots with a real time radar image provided by ground based or airborne radar systems, and it can replicate and attack threats on the ground and in the air. More on that is here at Airheadsfly.com. Poland should receive its first of eight M-346s soon and a ground attack version is being developed.

Candidates

The Raytheon announcement was long awaited and comes days after Lockheed Martin’s statement that it also joins the T-X race together with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). In Italy, FNM Aeronautics has been hinting at cooperation with a new US partner for many months, especially after General Dynamics quit an existing cooperation in March 2015. The Italians need a US partner to have any chance at winning the bid.

Also in the race jointly are Saab and Boeing, who aim to design a new aircraft altogether. Lockheed Martin has backed away from designing from scratch and now bets on a version of the KAI designed T-50.  Furthermore, Textron AirLand will probably propose its Scorpion jet or a newly developed variant.

The Pentagon is expected to announce a winner in the T-X program in 2017. A contract is worth roughly 8.4 billion USD. The T-X program is regarded as the last in a recent series of big US airborne defense contract. The Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program was another. Norhrop Grumman was selected as the winner in that race in October 2015.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

After exit General Dynamics, Alenia Aermacchi still in T-X race

Alenia Aermacchi is still in the race to provide the US Air Force with 350 new T-X advanced training jets to replace the aging Northrop T-38 Talons in American service. The bid by the Italian aircraft manufacturer got a serious blow when its planned primary partner, General Dynamics, dropped out of the race.

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
RELATED FEATURE:
AHF↑Inside: The Italian Training Recipe
General Dynamics, the company that designed and made the famous F-16 multirole jet and sold its aircraft division to Lockheed (Martin) in 1993, said it needs time and energy to reorganise itself and that it therefore cannot continue to become lead contractor for Alenia Aermacchi’s planned Americanised version of the M-346 advanced training jet. But the Italians are keeping there hopes up to go ahead with what they have named the T-100 and have engaged business discussions with a yet to be named US company. Winning the partnership of a American based firm is essential to win the order.

L-3 Communications
L-3 Communications in Waco, Texas, is the most likely “discussion partner” for Alenia Aermacchi, as the US company has already joined forces on the Italian C-27J Spartan aircraft. But Northrop Grumman was also hoping for the support of L-3, which makes matters ratter complicated. But there might be an opening, as Northrop Grumman together with its main partner BAE Systems seems to have stepped away from the earlier plan to offer the US Air Force a “pimped” version of the Hawk advanced jet trainer – meaning L-3 could re-discuss its involvement.

A USAF T-38 at Edwards Air Force Base (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A USAF T-38 at Edwards Air Force Base (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Boeing / SAAB
Probably Alenia Aermacchi’s biggest competitor in the bidding race is the Boeing / SAAB partnership. The SAAB JAS 39 Gripen multirole fighter is already a perfect, but overqualified candidate to replace the T-38. SAAB already admitted it has “a few hundred people working on the project”, with employees working in St. Louis, Missouri, and Boeing personnel at work at SAAB headquarters in Linköping, Sweden.

T-50
SAAB’s joint effort with Boeing – which bought the impressive McDonnell Douglas fighter heritage – to modify and “down develop” the ideas behind the Gripen into an advanced jet trainer – could be lethal to the competition, also to third bidder Lockheed Martin working with Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) to adapt the Korean T-50 jet.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The M-346 advanced trainer in mid-flight (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)

The South African Air Force's SAAB JAS 39D Gripen '01' which was involved in testing the new A-Darter in February 2015 (Image © Frans Dely / Gripen International)
Just think equally advanced, but focused on combat pilot training needs – a Boeing co-developped spin-off of this SAAB JAS 39D Gripen could be a replacement for the US Air Force’s T-38 fleet. It’s biggest fear might be the Alenia Aermacchi T-100 with a new American partner (Image © Frans Dely / Gripen International)

Goodbye to South Korean Hawks & Talons

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is saying good bye to its Hawk Mk67s. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is saying goodbye to its Hawk Mk67s. The aircraft above is one of ten now registered in the US. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is getting rid of its twenty year old British Aerospace Hawk Mk67 aircraft, as ten of them showed up on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) register last week. The aircraft are reportedly owned by AirUSA in Nevada. The ROKAF is replacing these Hawks with indigenous developed and built T-50 Golden Hawk aircraft. AIRheads↑FLY visited South Korea years ago, the faboulous dish of kimchi being our main target. Oh, and we saw some of those Hawks as well.

The ROKAF Hawk were based at Yecheon airbase in central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The ROKAF Hawk were stationed at Yecheon airbase in central South Korea. Deliveries began in 1993. This aircraft is caught landing at its homebase in autumn 2004. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The camouflage on these aircraft was as striking as the dayglow parts. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The camouflage on these aircraft was as striking as the orange dayglow parts. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Talon
Not only did the Koreans say goodbye to the Hawks, they did the very same to the thirty Northrop T-38A Talons that were leased from the US. In South Korea, these trainers also used Yecheon as their homebase. Over the last few years, the Talons returned stateside, where they returned flying in USAF service. Most of them are now operating from Holloman AFB, NM.

The dayglow was also found on the T-38A Talons in South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The orange dayglow was also found on the T-38A Talons in South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Hawks and T-38 shared the runway at Yecheon airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Hawks and T-38 shared the runway at Yecheon airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
T-38s are gone from South Korean skies, but continue training pilots in many countries. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
T-38s are gone from South Korean skies, but continue to train pilots in many countries. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

And what replaces both the Hawks and Talons is the Korea Aircraft Industries (KAI) T-50; a state of the art two-seater that is capable of supersonic speeds. The T-50 is flying in substantial numbers in South Korea now, and recently the first aircraft were delivered to Indonesia.

Seen landing at Sacheon is the second KAI T-50 prototype. The installation over the exhaust houses an anti spin dragchute. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This is the second KAI T-50 prototype, seen in October 2004. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

Norway ‘not amused’ by F-16 pilot cut

RNoAF F-16AM no. 292 over Langvatnet, North West of Snøhetta (Image © Morten Hanche / Forsvaret)
RNoAF F-16AM no. 292 over Langvatnet, North West of Snøhetta (Image © Morten Hanche / Forsvaret)

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 5: In the year 2014 Norway can still count on six F-16 pilot training positions in the USA (Forsvaret). But how it looks in 2015 is still uncertain.

The Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvaret) and political parties are ‘not amused’ by a recent American move to cut the number of Norwegian F-16 pilot training positions in the USA from six to only two, reports Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on July 17th, 2013.

The US action could be both for financial reasons and to free training spots for Iraqi and Japanese pilots, say sources to the newspaper.

Norway has committed itself to the F-16 and more or less to its successor the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter). The biggest Norwegian opposition party (conservative Høyre) now wants the government to postpone signing the F-35 main contract or cancel it all together.

Currently six pilots are doing their lead-in fighter training in the USA on the T-38 Talon. For four of them it is now highly uncertain if they can continue as previously planned on the F-16 Fighting Falcon in Tuscon (Arizona) later this year. It also confronts the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) with the possible lack of qualified pilots for the defence of the country.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

See also our Overview: Royal Norwegian Air Force