Perhaps an Opportunity

The Air Force’s ancient T-38 trainers are “an icon” of the service, said Heidi Grant, the Air Force’s deputy undersecretary for international affairs, but they also represent something else, “perhaps an opportunity.” Over the past 10 years, 1,500 international students have trained in some version of the T-38—a number that doesn’t even include students trained outside the United States, said Grant on Sept. 17 at AFA’s Air and Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. But the T-38 will “sooner rather than later” reach the end of its service life, she said. With the Air Force’s plans for a T-38 replacement on hold, there may be a chance for the United States and international partners to work together to develop, field, and operate a next-generation trainer, said Grant. She lauded the decades-long relationships developed by nations working together on the F-16 program, and the F-35 has an even more international flavor. In time of austere budgets, can the United States and its partners field a program together, more efficiently and more effectively than the United States could alone? “We have proven, over and over, it is possible,” said Grant.