Talon is a
supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its
design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance
and exceptional safety record. Air Education and Training Command is
the primary user of the T-38 for joint specialized undergraduate pilot
training. Air Combat Command, Air Force Materiel Command and the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration also use the T-38A in
The T-38 has swept wings, a streamlined fuselage and tricycle landing
gear with a steerable nose wheel. Two independent hydraulic systems
power the ailerons, rudder and other flight control surfaces. Critical
aircraft components are waist high and can be easily reached by
The T-38C incorporates a "glass cockpit" with integrated avionics
displays, head-up display and an electronic "no drop bomb" scoring
system. The AT-38B has a gun sight and practice bomb dispenser.
The T-38 needs as little as 2,300 feet (695.2 meters) of runway to take
off and can climb from sea level to nearly 30,000 feet (9,068 meters)
in one minute. T-38s modified by the propulsion modernization program
have approximately 19 percent more thrust, reducing takeoff distance by
The instructor and student sit in tandem on rocket-powered ejection
seats in a pressurized, air-conditioned cockpit.
Air Education and Training Command uses the T-38C to prepare
front-line fighter and bomber aircraft such as the F-15E Strike Eagle,
F-15C Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, B-1B Lancer,
A-10 Thunderbolt and
The Talon first flew in 1959. More than 1,100 were delivered to the Air
Force between 1961 and 1972 when production ended. As the T-38 fleet
has aged, specific airframe, engine and system components have been
modified or replaced. Pacer Classic is the name given to a sustainment
program that integrates essential modifications, and includes major
structural replacements into one process.
AETC began receiving T-38C models in 2001 as part of the Avionics
Upgrade Program. T-38C models will also undergo a propulsion
modernization program which replaces major engine components to enhance
reliability and maintainability, and an engine inlet/injector
modification to increase available takeoff thrust. These upgrades and
modifications, with the Pacer Classic program, should extend the
service life of T-38s to 2020.
Advanced JSUPT students fly the T-38C in aerobatics, formation, night,
instrument and cross-country navigation training.
Test pilots and flight test engineers are trained in T-38s at the U.S.
Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Air Force
Materiel Command uses the T-38 to test experimental equipment such as
electrical and weapon systems.
Pilots from most North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries train in
the T-38 at Sheppard AFB, Texas, through the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses T-38 aircraft as
trainers for astronauts and as observers and chase planes on programs
such as the space shuttle.