Friday, October 07, 2011

Tyndall gets new additions

Panama City Story

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — Two T-38 Talon jets landed on the tarmac at Tyndall on Thursday afternoon, signaling — to some in the community — an upturn in activity near the Air Force base.

A total of 20 of the twin-engine jets will be used to aid in the training of F-22 pilots, and an estimated 100 jobs will be brought to Tyndall because of the T-38 Talons’ arrival.

The two T-38s, which arrived from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, are high-altitude, supersonic jet trainers used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record.

Lt. Col. Glen Richards, 39, of the Air Force Reserves, is the Reserve Detachment Commander and the 325th Fighter Wing Program Integration Officer. He said the plane will be used much like the practice squad on a football team.

“It’s like the scrimmage team in football,” Richards said. “It is like having somebody to practice or scrimmage against before the big game.”

Richards said instead of using another F-22 or an F-15 or F-16 to simulate an enemy fighter, the Air Force employs the T-38 at a fraction of the cost of the other aircraft.

Air Education and Training Command is the primary user of the T-38 for joint specialized undergraduate pilot training. Air Combat Command, Air Force Materiel Command and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also use the T-38A in various roles.

“Some countries do use these (T-38s) in a more combat-oriented role, but we are using them here to help train Raptor pilots,” said 43-year-old Lt. Col. Ron Miller, the 53rd Weapons Evaluations Group deputy commander. “But not here. They will be the simulated bad guy, if you will.”

And don’t expect any “dogfights” in the sky.

“The intent with this airplane is not to get into a Korean-era or Vietnam-era dog fighting,” Richards said. “The intent is to basically have pieces of metal in the sky that can fly at fighter speeds — at supersonic speeds — to exercise the systems in the F-22 to shoot long- range missiles and exercise all the capabilities of the F-22.”

Another eight T-38s will arrive over the next few months, with the remaining 10 arriving sometime next fall, Air Force officials said.

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