Last July it was known as the ‘Biggest USAF Contract That Nobody was Talking About’. Since then funding for the new advanced jet training system has jumped tenfold and in the latest five-year spending plan $306 million has been put aside for the T-X programme- the replacement for Northrop T-38C Talon and its simulators.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Northrop has applied to register the rights to the term ‘Super Talon’. Whether this is a major overhaul of the original aircraft or a new pu
rpose built design is yet to be seen. Boeing are the only other company interested in competing at this time, though have made no soundings for what direction they suggest for the system. The scheduled introduction of the aircraft is 2017 if the USAF does not chose an off-the-shelf model to replace it.
Northrop Grumman‘s advanced development team has been busy lately. The last two years has yielded the revelations of Wild Thing, MQ-X and, most recently and featured on this blog, Firebird. Now, this otherwise secret concept may have leaked outside Northrop’s version of Skunk Works. The ARES Concept as developed by Burt Rutan is one of the more exotic options that Northrop Grumman are looking into. A re-built T-38 with 9g maneuvering, increased engine power, embedded training suites and a digital cockpit are some of the improvements possibly on the cards.
USAF officials are expected to brief the Defense Acquisition Board about the requirement in June. Until then we can probably expect more speculation to surface over the coming weeks.
Image Courtesy of air-and-space.com