Lockheed Martin plans to offer its T-50A aircraft as its proposal to the U.S. Air Force to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon for fast-jet pilot training. The USAF’s T-X Program represents an order for about 350 aircraft, initially, though that figure could rise to as many as 1,000 aircraft over the life of the program.
The program had been expected to begin in 2017, but the constraints in U.S. defense spending over recent years have advanced the program’s initial operating capability date roughly to 2023.
Reportedly, Lockheed had considered developing “a clean-sheet” aircraft design for the T-X competition but determined such an approach was too risky with respect to the program’s cost and schedule.
Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries co-developed the T-50A as a replacement for the T-38 jet, and to train pilots to fly the next generation of the fighter aircraft. Its design is based on South Korea’s FA-50 fighter jet, which is in production now. The FA-50 design includes air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, along with an avionics suite that contains an electronic warfare suite, a multi-mode radar, and an advanced data-link.
“The T-50A is production ready now. It is the only offering that meets all of the APT requirements and can deliver those capabilities on schedule,” according to Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs (aka, Skunk Works®).
The Lockheed’s T-50A Ground-Based Training System (GBTS) uses technologies that provide an “immersive, synchronized ground-based training platform.” The T-50A GBTS applies lessons based on decades of training, with advanced technologies that achieve a cost-effective advanced pilot training solution.
Lockheed Martin also announced that it has selected the Greenville (S.C.) Operations as the preferred Final Assembly and Checkout (FACO) site for the T-50A.