Monday, January 10, 2011

Holloman Airmen provide 5th generation fighter support

by Senior Airman Sondra Escutia, 49th Wing Public Affairs

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Two T-38 Talons were delivered in December here with the help of NASA officials.

NASA officials used an Aero Spacelines Super Guppy to deliver the first two of an eventual 15 T-38s that will be regenerated here and flown to operating locations at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and Tyndall AFB, Fla. The Super Guppy is a wide-bodied cargo aircraft used in many space programs to transport spacecraft components.

"This will keep the T-38 Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Program alive for a number of years, and it will allow us to provide these low-cost training assets to help offset the cost of some of these higher cost aircraft," said Miles Crowell, the M1 Support Services manager and director of maintenance for the T-38 Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Program.

Members of the M1 Support Services T-38 CAM program here currently maintain all of the T-38s on base -- the majority of which are used as aggressor forces against F-22 Raptors during training, Mr. Crowell said. This method of fifth generation fighter support has proven a highly efficient and cost-effective way to train.

He said the aircraft being delivered here were originally sent to South Korea in 1997 to be used for pilot training. In November 2009, the T-38s returned to the U.S. and were slated to be retired at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. Instead, Air Force leaders determined they should be put to use.

"The Air Force had identified the need to have more of these aircraft for fifth generation fighter support," Mr. Crowell said. "They approached us to see if we could rehab these aircraft. We went and took a look at them, and we think that we can have them back into service over the next year."

The T-38 Adversary Air Program lead from JB Langley, Lt. Col. Derek Wyler, said the delivery of the first two T-38s was a major step on the path to provide that fighter support.

Colonel Wyler said the first seven T-38s to arrive and be regenerated here will be flown to JB Langley and will largely benefit the fighter pilot population there.

"Right now at (JB Langley) ... the F-22s are having to fly against themselves for their air-to-air training," Colonel Wyler said. "By bringing the T-38s out, we'll be able to train F-22 pilots by flying against the T-38s, which will give them a larger number of aircraft to fly against, and it will be a far more cost-effective way to train."

He added that the decision to preserve the T-38 training mission will not only benefit each of the bases involved, but the Air Force as a whole.

"The addition of these T-38s will dramatically increase the combat capability of our F-22 pilots so they're ready to go down range when needed," Colonel Wyler said.

Holloman AFB will receive the T-38 aircraft two at a time until the last of the 15 is delivered which slated for February 2011, officials said.