U.S. Military Insights Saab and Boeing’s Vision to Replace the USAF’s T-38

In December 2013, Saab signed a Joint Development Agreement with Boeing to cultivate a new training solution for the U.S. Air Force's (USAF) upcoming competition to replace its T-38 aircrew training system. Nearly three years later on September 13, 2016, we are rolling out our new system: the T-X. Designed specifically for the USAF training mission, the T-X is a perfect replacement for the legendary T-38 Talon.

The T-38 Talon has had a long, proud history as the world's first supersonic jet trainer. After five years of design and construction, it had its first flight in 1959. The USAF was its original operator. In total, there were 1,187 Talons built during its years of production between 1961 and 1972. Though it was designed for 7,000 flight hours, most of the Talons still flying today are well above 15,000 flight hours. The Talon is set to retire in 2029; by that point, it will have flown for more than 70 years and will likely exceed 19,000 flight hours.

During my 30-year career with the USAF, I flew the T-38 at Columbus Air Force Base and at Beale Air Force Base. It has prepared generations of pilots for combat – and I believe that the T-X is a truly worthy successor capable of bringing USAF training to new heights. The full system includes trainer aircraft, ground-based training, and support – designed together from the ground up. Safe, agile and affordable, the T-X will keep pilots ready for the challenges of their battlespace.

Today's young teens are the future of the USAF, and I am thrilled to be part of a program that has designed a new airplane for their generation. Like the T-38, I hope that the T-X will shape the next 70 years of USAF pilot training.

Col. Jon Klaus, U.S. Air Force, Ret.
Senior VP of Business Development, Air Domain
Saab North America

The T-38 Trainer | © Northrop Grumman Corporation

This post is part of Saab USA's U.S. Military Insights blog series, where our employees who have served in the U.S. military offer their thoughts on the issues affecting their branch.