Soon-to-Be Replaced T-38 Talon Flies With the Big Bad Boys, Shows It Still Has It

T-38 Talon and F-35 Lightning IIs over Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri 8 photos
Photo: USAF/Airman 1st Class Joseph Garcia
T-38 Talon and F-35 Lightning IIs over Whiteman Air Force Base in MissouriT-38 TalonT-38 TalonT-38 TalonT-38 TalonT-38 TalonT-38 Talon
Back in 1959, what was then Northrop introduced an airplane called T-38 Talon. Designed to perform the role of supersonic trainer for American Air Force pilots, the beast has been in service almost ever since, making sure generation after generation of pilots are up to the task.
First deployed in active duty in 1961, the twin-engine two-seater has formed the backbone of pilot training for the Air Education and Training Command, Air Combat Command, Air Force Materiel Command, and, last but not least, NASA itself.

At the time of writing, of the close to 1,200 Talons made (the last one rolled off the lines all the way back in 1972), about half are still in operation. But that won’t be the case for long.

Back at the end of April, Boeing presented to the world the first operational T-7A Red Hawk. 350 others will follow, slowly taking the place of the Talons as the Air Education and Training Command’s primary training tool for its army of pilots.

Rolling off the lines so many new, fancy trainers will take a while, of course, and that means the T-38 will still be around for some time. Even if all of them are at least 50 years old, they can still perform as intended, and from time to time, we get proof of that.

The latest such evidence is the main pic of this piece, showing a Talon flying alongside two much more modern F-35 Lightning IIs. The photo was snapped at the beginning of April over the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, and released by the USAF just as the Red Hawk was being shown publicly to great acclaim.

Technically, the T-38 is more than capable to hold its ground against the more modern machines. It is powered by two General Electric turbojet engines with afterburners, developing 2,900 pounds of thrust when running hot, and pushing the planes to speeds of up to Mach 1.08.

The engines can keep at it for close to 1,100 miles (1,770 km) and can run at altitudes as high as 55,000 feet (16,800 meters).
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Editor's note: Gallery shows various T-38 Talons.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories