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- Joined: 23 Jan 2011, 01:23
Came across the article below. If the USAF replaces the T-38 (big "if"), what will they pick? I'm rooting for the T-50 (the Korean plane, not the PAK-FA) because it's one of the few advanced jet trainers being built that is supersonic. Any other ideas?
USAF Will Likely Pick Off-The-Shelf Trainer
By DAVE MAJUMDAR
Published: 5 Apr 2011 15:07
The U.S. Air Force will likely pick an aircraft that is already in production for its nascent T-X advanced jet-trainer program to replace its geriatric fleet of the T-38 Talon trainers, the service's top civilian leader told reporters.
"In T-X, we are looking for probably a commercial derivative, something that's [already] being produced elsewhere," Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said April 5 at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.
Analysts said that the revelation comes as no surprise because the service simply does not have the research and development funds to design a clean-sheet aircraft design.
"I don't think anyone had the illusion they had the [research and development] cash," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va.
However, Aboulafia said, the Air Force might run into trouble with buying an off-the-shelf airframe if it cannot keep its requirements in check.
"The real danger is, you start with a simple off-the-shelf airplane and then start adding all sorts of bells and whistles, and you can get into real trouble especially in these times of limited budgets," he said.
Donley said one approach that might remedy the problem of ever-expanding requirements is to limit engineering change authority to the top levels of Air Force leadership, which is the how the service has said it plans to manage its KC-46A tanker program.
However, there are drawbacks to that approach, Aboulafia said.
"With a tanker, that's close to a commodity product, but with a tanker they might have more exacting specifications. But that's the approach to take," he said.