WASHINGTON — The Air Force announced Feb. 21, that the Advanced Pilot Trainer (T-X) will replace T-38C Talon aircraft at existing undergraduate pilot training bases, with Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, named as the preferred location for the first T-X aircraft scheduled to arrive in 2022.
The other locations include Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; Laughlin AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Vance AFB, Oklahoma.
Current pilot training installations rely on a unique runway structure and special-use airspace capable of supporting high volume pilot training which makes them ideal for the new aircraft.
“As we bring the T-X training aircraft into service, we’ll base them at our current undergraduate pilot training bases which have the airspace and runways needed for the mission,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson.
The new trainer will provide student pilots with the skills and competencies required to transition into 4th and 5thgeneration fighter aircraft.
“We need the T-X program to properly train our pilots to fly our growing fleet of 5th generation aircraft,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein. “This new training capability will enable pilots to receive realistic training in a system similar to our fielded fighters.”
Basing the T-X at JB San Antonio-Randolph first, home to Air Force instructor pilot training, is an essential step to establishing a T-X instructor pilot pipeline and sets the conditions to transition to T-X training at the other flying training locations.
The Air Force will now begin the required environmental analyses at all of the existing undergraduate pilot locations. Final basing decisions are dependent on the outcome of the environmental analyses.
The Air Force expects to award a contract for the new aircraft in 2018, with the first aircraft expected to arrive at JB San Antonio-Randolph as early as 2022.