Well, Duh!

“Multi-Mission T-X?:  The Air Force may want to add another mission for the T-X trainer that Air Education and Training Command wants to replace the T-38, said Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, who heads the strategic plans and programs office (A8) on the Air Staff. Speaking with reporters on March 12 after an AFA-sponsored speech in Arlington, Va., Moeller wondered out loud if the T-X should “have multiple capabilities, to include light attack.” Such an aircraft might be extremely useful in helping to “build partnership capacity” with other countries, thus supporting the Air Force with its forward-presence requirements, he said. “It sure would make sense from an A8 perspective,” he said. He pointed out that no program can be justified any more if it is “single mission,” and officials should consider this fact when “we’re buying new capabilities.”

This article just came from my ‘morning staff meeting;’ the Air Force Online Magazine.

My only thought on the subject is, “Well, duh!”  I have advocated this for years!

For years I have wondered why we didn’t use F-5F’s in UPT, as well as T-38s?  Or, just convert to the f-5 completely?  The F-5F is the “Family Model” of the F-5, which is essentially a ‘beefed-up’ T-38.   Here is an F-5F:


…and here, a T-38:


The T-38 is an outstanding platform for advanced jet training.  Although I never flew the F-5F, or any of the F-5 derivatives, I am sure the basic flight characteristics are the same.  In the late 70’s we experienced several wing failures in the T-38.  That would have been an excellent opportunity to “shift gears.”  However, the “political climate” in the Air Force wouldn’t allow it at the time.   The “Fighter Mafia,” Tactical Air Command (TAC) was just too powerful, and myopic at the time.  Anything remotely related to armed high-performance air combat (air-to-air, or air-to-ground) was a function of TAC, and TAC alone!  To suggest anything else was sacrilegious.

In the mid-80s, Air Training Command (ATC) began to ‘morph.’  TAC was creating so many “golden boys” they didn’t have enough squadrons for all of them “to get their tickets punched.”  So we began seeing these ‘anointed ones’ show up in ATC.

In the late 80’s/early 90’s, ATC shifted pilot training philosophy from training a “Universally Assignable Pilot” to the “dual track” system.  This meant that student pilots were evaluated early on to determine whether they would continue on the FAR track (fighter, attack, reconnaissance) or the TTB track (tanker, transport, bomber).

Once the system conversion was complete, ATC saw no need to use either FAIPs (First Assignment IPs) or pilots from tankers, transports, or bombers as T-38 IPs – only prior fighter pilots.  Swell… and now ‘they’ think they might just need an aircraft with “dual” capabilities – for advanced jet training, and light attack.  Well, duh…

I always thought I was way ahead of my time with this idea.  Guess now I know…

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