Air Force News

Upgraded T-38 being tested at Columbus

Released: 17 Sep 1999

by Maj. Chris Castleberry
50th Flying Training Squadron

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFPN) -- Two T-38C's, an improved fighter trainer aircraft, recently transferred here from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for testing.

Following the development test and evaluation of the aircraft's Avionics Upgrade Program at Edwards, personnel at Columbus AFB, Miss., will conduct initial operational testing and evaluation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals. The T-38C must prove itself in both SUPT and IFF missions before production can begin. If the tests are successful, all SUPT T-38As and IFF T-38Bs will be upgraded.

The T-38C is expected to reduce maintenance costs by eliminating dozens of mechanical displays, and replacing them with a few state-of-the-art computer displays. A built-in test system, which identifies faulty components, simplifies troubleshooting and reduces aircraft turn-around times will simplify maintenance.

Significant enhancements include: a Global Positioning System satellite receiver; a ring-laser gyro-inertial navigation system; a radar altimeter; a collision avoidance system; and an instrument-flight certified heads-up display.

Other enhancements include: a color multifunction display that serves as a primary flight reference and displays other mission data; an electronic engine display that incorporates all engine and fuel-related data onto one color screen; and, a VHF radio and up-front control panel to enter and display mission data.

The T-38C also features a data transfer system that uses standard PCMCIA computer cartridges to transfer data between the aircraft and mission-planning, and maintenance computers. In addition, it has air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons training modes.

Another aspect of the T-38C program is the acquisition of a series of new simulators. The Unit Training Device includes a cockpit with a 40-degree field-of-view display and an instructor operating station. The UTD is small enough to be placed in individual squadrons. Other simulators such as the Operational Flight Trainer and the Weapons System Trainer will offer IFF pilots more realistic air-to-air training simulation.

The first phase of testing and evaluation concentrates on the IFF mission, where air-to-air and air-to-ground training effectiveness is evaluated. The T-38C will be able to simulate aerial gunnery and missile attacks using either an F-16 or generic heads-up display.

This first phase is scheduled to last six weeks, after which the T-38Cs will return to Edwards AFB for more developmental testing. The jets are programmed to return to Columbus AFB next year to continue operational testing. (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)


* F-16 Fighting Falcon
* T-38 Talon
* Air Education and Training Command
* Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
* Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.