The Argument for T-50A

Lockheed Martin’s T-50A would be the best bet for the Air Force’s T-X trainer because it not only meets all the service’s performance requirements, but also it would draw on the company’s incumbent knowledge of the F-16, F-22, and F-35: most of the jets the T-X will train pilots to fly, said Lockheed’s T-X capture chief, Mike Griswold. Lockheed could adapt its F-35 Ground Based Training System to the T-X, reusing hardware and software and making the transition easier from one to the other, he said. The T-50A cockpit, using flight controls and displays highly similar to that of the F-35, would also ease the transition, he said. The T-50A could also perform some F-35 training at lower cost, Griswold noted, because of embedded training software that would simulate sensors and weapons. The T-50A, with a new refueling receptacle behind the cockpit – as it is on the F-16, F-22, and F-35 – could also give F-35 pilots their first real-world tanker contacts with an experienced instructor in the back seat; something that can’t be done with the F-35, of which there are no two-seat models. The T-50 trainer has racked up 100,000 flight hours in Korean service and has trained more than 1,000 pilots, company officials noted.