Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, commander of the 19th Air Force, last week became the first airman to fly a sortie in the service’s next training aircraft.
Doherty flew in Boeing’s T-X aircraft, which will replace the T-38C Talon as the Air Force’s next-generation fighter and bomber trainer, on Nov. 27 at the company’s facility in St. Louis, the Air Force said in a news release Monday.
He received a mission brief, flight and debrief for his T-X sortie, and spent time in the T-X simulator, the Air Force said. The 19th Air Force trains more than 30,000 U.S. and allied students to be pilots and other air crew members each year.
“The T-X will revolutionize how we train pilots in the future,” Doherty said. “From the performance, flight characteristics, data management, avionics, higher angle of attack — the T-X brings a high level of realism, 5th-generation capabilities and futuristic training concepts that we simply do not have at this time. I’m excited for the future of the flying training community and how it will make us more lethal, competitive and agile with our production pipelines.”
The Air Force is planning to buy 351 T-X trainers and 46 simulators, and the first aircraft are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas in 2023. Boeing won the $9.2 billion T-X contract in September.
All undergraduate pilot training bases that are now flying the T-38 — Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, and Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma — will transition to the new trainer.
“The T-38 will continue to train our fighter and bomber students until the T-X fully replaces the vaunted Talon, that has been in service nearly 60 years,” Doherty said. “However, as we look to the future — and remaining the number one air force in the world — the T-X is a leap forward in preparing our pilots with the skills needed for future air warfare.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.