Lockheed Martin has just released a new video detailing its proposed jet trainer, the T-50A. Meant to modernize the Air Force's flight training programs, the T-X program will replace the 1960s-era with a fleet of modern jets better capable of preparing pilots for their assignments flying the most advanced planes in the world.
The T-38 Talon was first introduced into Air Force service in 1961. While an effective jet trainer in the 20th Century, the T-38 hasn't kept pace with technological developments. The advent of fly-by-wire flight controls, GPS and laser guided weapons, large LCD displays to convey information, and powerful onboard computers have left gaps in the tasks the T-38 can train a pilot for.
The T-50A entered service with the Republic of Korea Air Force in 2005 to train pilots destined for the F-15K and F-16. Known as the T-50 Golden Eagle, the aircraft was designed by Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries.The company argues that the trainer shares many technologies with the F-22 and F-35—which it also produces—making it a logical step in pilot training before either jet. In particular, the cockpit Large Area Avionics Display can simulate a number of weapons systems and capabilities the plane doesn't even have, but that pilots can expect to use operationally in frontline jets.
In addition to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman are to submit competing designs. The winner of the competition will build at least 350 planes for the U.S. Air Force. The T-X trainer program has been repeatedly delayed but the winning jet is expected to reach full operational capability by the .