Tag Archives: Northrop T-38 Talon

One Pilot Killed in Fifth U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon Crash In One Year.

One Pilot Confirmed Dead, One Hospitalized in Latest USAF Trainer Crash.

One crew member is confirmed dead and another hospitalized in the fifth U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon two-seat, advanced jet trainer crash this year. The condition of the second crew member transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Val Verde, Texas has not been released.

The accident took place at approximately 7:40 PM local time, the exact location of the crash has not been reported although sources suggest it is close to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. Initial reports about the accident were released from Laughlin AFB.

Laughlin AFB is home to two T-38 units, the 87th Flying Training Squadron, the “Red Bulls” and the 96th Flying Training Squadron. Both T-38 equipped squadrons are part of the Laughlin AFB-based 47th Flying Training Wing. It is not known which of the two squadrons the T-38 involved in the crash originated from.

According to a report on Stars And Stripes.com (stripes.com) published immediately following this latest November 13, 2018 crash, “Late last month, the Air Force removed three top commanders at Laughlin, citing concerns about dangerous and threatening behavior at the major pilot training installation, the service’s Air Education and Training Command announced.”

On September 11, 2018, a USAF T-38C advanced jet trainer from Sheppard AFB suffered an incident when it departed the runway and both crew members ejected. One of the crew members was a German exchange pilot. The September 11 incident at Sheppard AFB was the fourth T-38 accident for the Air Force this year. Click here to read the reports we wrote after the previous crashes.

The ageing T-38 Talon jets will be replaced by the Boeing T-X built in cooperation with Saab: at the end of September, the U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing USD 9.2 billion for the development of the new trainer and supporting systems.

This latest November 13, 2018 accident brings the tally of U.S. Air Force accidents since the beginning of 2018 to 10. The accidents so far in 2018 include the loss of an F-15C Eagle that crashed near Japan on June 11, 2018 and the fatal June 22, 2018 crash of an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano participating the Light Attack Experiment near Holloman AFB. This latest Air Force accident increases the total number of U.S. military aviation accidents in 2018 to at least 17. Earlier this year the U.S. Navy made changes to its official web portal that formerly reported aviation accidents to the public. The crash data has since been moved behind a password protected firewall and can no longer be viewed by media reporters.

Top image: file photo of a T-38 Talon II advanced twin-engine jet trainer at Laughlin AFB, Texas. (Photo: USAF)

USAF T-38C Talon Crew Eject in Texas After Their Jet Departs The Runway. Both Pilots Safe.

Fourth T-38 Trainer Accident in Eleven Months for USAF Talon Crews.

A U.S. Air Force T-38C Talon two-seat, twin engine advanced jet trainer from the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas departed the runway prior to takeoff this morning at approximately 10:13 a.m.

Both crew members ejected from the aircraft after the runway overrun. One crew member, Major Christian Hartmann of the German Air Force, was treated for minor injuries according to the Sheppard Air Force Base Facebook page. Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Maj. Hartmann is part of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard AFB. The exchange training program instructs combat pilots for 14 partner nations including Germany, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The second crewmember, U.S. Air Force pilot 1st Lt. Charles Walet, was also transported to United Regional Medical for medical evaluation following the accident. Lt. Walet was reported to be in stable condition. The statement released on the official Sheppard Air Force Base Facebook page went on to say that Lt. Walet is assigned to Vance AFB in Oklahoma and was on temporary duty at Sheppard AFB.

In a statement released soon after the accident USAF Colonel Lendy Renegar, Vice Commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing, said on Facebook that, “We are grateful both aircrew members are safe, and for the outstanding response from our fire, security and medical personnel. We also greatly appreciate the any expressions of support from leaders and members in our local community.”
Issuing a similar statement from Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma, USAF Colonel Corey Simmons said on Facebook, “We’re relieved both pilots successfully ejected from the aircraft and stand ready to assist Sheppard in any way we can.” Col. Simmons is commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance AFB.

The two T-38 crewmembers escaped in ejection seats that were recently upgraded as part of a $185 million improvement program. The new MK US16T ejection seats were installed in the T-38 in 2013. The “zero/zero” ejection seats manufactured by Martin Baker are also used in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the T-6A Texan II trainer.

The statement posted on the Sheppard AFB Facebook page went on to say, “Emergency crews responded to the scene immediately to provide medical support to the aircrew and also extinguished a small fire in and around the aircraft. An explosive ordnance disposal team from Fort Sill also responded as a precaution, to ensure all the explosive material associated with the ejection seats was safely expended. The scene was declared safe for recovery operations at about 12:45 p.m.”

There has been no speculation or statements about the cause of the accident by the U.S. Air Force. As with all Air Force aviation accidents, the official cause will be determined by an investigation.

It is noteworthy that this is the fourth accident involving T-38 trainers in 11 months for the U.S. Air Force. There have now been nine U.S. Air Force crashes in the continuing tally of accidents since the beginning of 2018. These include the loss of an F-15C Eagle that crashed near Japan on June 11, 2018 and the fatal June 22, 2018 crash of an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano participating the Light Attack Experiment near Holloman AFB. This latest Air Force accident increases the total number of U.S. military aviation accidents in 2018 to at least 14.

The frequency of aviation accidents in the U.S. Air Force prompted U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General David L. Goldfein, to direct a one-day safety stand-down for an operational review earlier this year. Following the review, no single reason has been officially cited by the U.S. Air Force as a contributing factor to the number of accidents that have occurred in recent years and especially during 2017 and 2018.

Top image: stock photo of a T-38 Talon trainer like the one involved in today’s accident at Sheppard AFB. (Photo: USAF Official/Danny Webb)

T-38C Talon II Crashes at Vance AFB, in Oklahoma; Pilot Safely Ejected.

Accident is Third T-38 Crash in Ten Months for Talon II, Continues Series of U.S. Accidents.

A U.S. Air Force Northrop T-38C Talon II crashed on Friday, August 17, 2018 near Vance AFB 90 miles northwest of Oklahoma City in Enid, Oklahoma. One Instructor Pilot (the only crewmember) ejected from the aircraft and is reported in stable condition without serious injuries according to local media reports. The accident occurred at approximately 3:30 PM local time.

The aircraft belonged to either the 5th Flying Training Squadron, the “Spitten Kittens” or the 25th Flying Training Squadron, the “Shooters” of the 71st Flying Training Wing of the Air Education and Training Command.

The Northrop T-38C Talon II is a two-seat, twin engine, advanced supersonic jet trainer used for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) for U.S. Air Force pilots making the transition to high performance tactical combat aircraft after basic pilot training.

The T-38 family of advanced trainers is the first-ever supersonic jet trainer. It first flew in April, 1959. Another, single seat version of the aircraft called the Northrop F-5 are used as lightweight, multirole combat aircraft by air forces around the world. An advanced version of the F-5 called the F-20 Tigershark was proposed but never adopted.

The T-38 Talon training jet crashed about 50 miles west of the base, according to a statement released by USAF Tech. Sgt. Erik Cardenas of the 71st Flying Training Wing. No cause for the accident has been given. As with all Air Force flying accidents the cause of the accident will be subject to an official investigation. The weather around the approximate time of the crash in the Enid, Oklahoma area is reported to have been near 80° Fahrenheit, partly cloudy with winds of 13 MPH.

Yesterday’s crash of another T-38 Talon advanced trainer brings the total of crashes in T-38s to three in less than one year. Another T-38C Talon II crashed near Columbus AFB, Mississippi approximately 9 miles north of the city of Columbus on May 23, 2018. Prior to that crash a U.S. Air Force T-38 crashed on Monday, November 20, 2017 outside Lake Amistad, Texas, killing the pilot.

The series of three T-38 accidents continues a trend of U.S. military aviation accidents. There have been eight U.S. Air Force crashes since the beginning of the year including a USAF F-15C Eagle that crashed near Japan on June 11, 2018 and the June 22, 2018 crash of an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano participating the Light Attack Experiment near Holloman AFB. This latest Air Force accident brings the total number of U.S. military aviation crashes in 2018 to 13.

Earlier this year, US Air Force Chief of Staff, General David L. Goldfein ordered all USAF flying and maintenance wings to carry out a one day safety stand-down for an operational review following the increase in flying accidents. While no single contributing factor for the frequency of U.S. military and USAF accidents has been cited, the trend in accidents appears to remain consistent based on Friday’s accident.

Top: A file photo of a USAF T-38 Talon similar to the aircraft that crashed at Vance AFB. (Photo: USAF)

USAF T-38 Crashes in Texas: One Fatality Reported.

One Crewmember Survives Trainer Crash.

A U.S. Air Force Northrop T-38 Talon two-seat, supersonic advanced trainer crashed on Monday, November 20, 2017 outside Lake Amistad, Texas.

Reports from Laughlin Air Force Base indicate one fatality, the pilot. The other crewmember is reported to have ejected and parachuted to the ground according to witnesses as published by the local Del Rio News Herald. The surviving pilot was transported to the local Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio. There are no updates on the surviving crewmember’s condition yet.

The name of the crash victims has not been released.

Reports indicate the aircraft crashed in the afternoon around 4:00 PM, approximately 15 miles from Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. The crash site was identified as close to the local US-90 freeway by media reports.

Laughlin Air Force Base is the largest U.S. Air Force pilot training facility and home to the 47th Flying Training Wing, the largest school for USAF pilots.

As is common in aircraft accidents, no details of the crash have been released by the Air Force pending the outcome of an official investigation.
“Our biggest priority at this time is caring for the family and friends of our Airmen,” Col. Michelle Pryor, 47th Flying Training Wing vice commander, said in an official Air Force statement.

According to official USAF information, the U.S. Air Force Air Education and Training Command uses the T-38C for advanced training of student pilots who will later transition to combat aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle, along with the B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bomber and other frontline combat aircraft.

There were two fatal crashes with four fatalities involving the Northrop T-38 Talon two-seat advanced supersonic trainer in 2008 at different USAF bases prompting the temporary grounding of the aircraft type. A year later, another T-38 crashed outside Edwards AFB. Despite the series of accidents in 2008-09 the Air Force characterizes the T-38 as “extremely safe”. A tragic accident with the U.S. Air Force Flight Demonstration Team, The Thunderbirds, on January 18, 1982 resulted in the loss of four T-38s and four pilots. The Thunderbirds subsequently switched to flying F-16 Fighting Falcons following the accident.

In addition to being used as an advanced jet trainer by the Air Force the T-38 is also flown by some bomber and reconnaissance units in the to maintain pilot hours and proficiency since it is more economical to fly than larger, more sophisticated aircraft. The T-38 has also been flown by NASA and a number of civilian flight test companies.

The T-38 will be replaced by aircraft winning the T-X program worth 350 jet trainers for the Air Education and Training Command.

Top image: file photo of a T-38 (Photo by TSgt Matthew Hannen U.S. Air Force)


Razor Talon: US East Coast Large Force Exercise keeps Air Force Units Razor Sharp

The Aviationist visits the 4th FW at Seymour Johnson AFB to report on “Razor Talon,” a monthly large force exercise sponsored by the USAF.

Razor Talon is a monthly aerial warfare exercise that represents a tremendous “win” for the USAF both in terms of cost efficiencies and proficiency gains. The exercise has been primarily designed for three core Wings, the 4th FW F-15E Strike Eagles of Seymour Johnson AFB, the 1st FW F-22A Raptors of Langley AFB and the 20th FW F-16CM Vipers of Shaw AFB. The September Razor Talon also included the T-38C from Langley AFB, the RC-135, E-3 AWACS, and E-8 JSTARS platforms from their associated bases.

Notable historical contributions of the 4th FW 335th FS “Chiefs” include the role they executed as the primary group tasked to search for and destroy Iraq’s module Scud missiles utilized in the Gulf War. As a result of their ultimate success they were nicknamed “SCUD BUSTERS,” though they also made aerial warfare history by downing an Iraqi helicopter in the air using a laser-guided bomb! (USAF Fact Sheet) The F-22A Raptors, the most advanced air superiority fighter in service are becoming much more visible internationally as they are being deployed globally in response to events in a number of theaters. The 20th FW F-16CMs have consistently been involved in critical domestic and global US operations in a variety of roles, though they are primarily known for their expertise in the Wild Weasel mission of SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses).

“Razor Talon represents a natural progression from unit training towards the broader platform integration that takes place in a campaign”

We were fortunate to get a bird’s eye view of the exercise via a supporting KC-135R tanker from the 916th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) flown by personnel from the 911 Air Refueling Squadron (ARS). During the tanker flight F-22s from the 94th & 27th FS and F-15Es from the 335th FS visited for refueling.

F-15E 4th FW 335 FS sliding up for fuel during Razor Talon

F-15E 4th FW 335 FS sliding up for fuel during Razor Talon

Given the proximity of the participating bases, Razor Talon provides units the opportunity to participate in a tailored large force exercise (LFE) with no distant travel. The monthly frequency of the exercise ensures the units are able to focus on a wide variety of mission types that are likely to be executed in a larger campaign.

Razor Talon typically involves 50-60 aircraft, with 35-40 on Blue Air and 20-25 on Red Air. Given the location and scope, the exercise offers tremendous flexibility and opportunity, often including units from the Marines, Navy, Army, Special Operations Forces, Coast Guard, and Interagency assets.

Razor Talon represents a natural progression from unit training towards the broader platform integration that takes place in a campaign, or at the ultimate LFE, “Red Flag” held on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). The 2 or 3 week long Red Flag exercise integrates 70 – 100 aircraft and includes a broader variety of platforms in an environment that realistically reflects an aerial warfare campaign against a very capable enemy. Razor Talon includes all the core aspects of Red Flag (albeit on a smaller scale), including real-time monitoring by command and control systems with air to air, air to ground and SAM kills called.

F-15E 4th FW 335 FS "Squadron Jet" breaks away after taking on fuel during Razor Talon.

F-15E 4th FW 335 FS “Squadron Jet” breaks away after taking on fuel during Razor Talon.

Primary missions tasked during Razor Talon include air superiority, interdiction/deep strike, SEAD, close air support, sea control, defensive counter air, and offensive counter air. Between the nearby Dare County range and other sites there are hundreds of potential targets available for the exercise, including “active” surface to air missile (SAM) sites, and naval targets. Razor Talon provides the additional benefit of the realism of a coastal environment, representative of likely scenario in a future campaign.

F-15E 4th FW 335 FS sliding up for fuel during Razor Talon

F-15E 4th FW 335 FS sliding up for fuel during Razor Talon

During Razor Talon the F-22A and bulk of F-15Es and F-16CMs typically fly as Blue Air. T-38C Talon adversary aircraft from Langley AFB fly Red Air in conjunction with designated F-16s and F-15s. The Talons reflect a suitable adversary for the beyond visual range (BVR) fight as they have a low radar cross-section and generate low electromagnetic emissions. The T-38s are regularly flown by Raptor pilots. Tasked to defeat the platform they have tremendous expertise in ultimately strengthens the pilots performance when back in the Raptor. The Raptors are charged with ensuring air dominance as the Blue Air F-15Es (interdiction) and F-16CMs (SEAD) press their missions. Targeting active SAM emitters featuring advanced capabilities the “Vipers” of the 20th FW are well-known as “Wild Weasels,” and fly armed with the AGM-88 HARM (high-speed anti-radiation) missile.

However, the massive mushroom cloud left in our wake immediately alerted Red Air – ‘strikers low and hot!’

While not specifically a Razor Talon mission, Captain Eichel of the 335 FS shared a training experience that is reflective of what Strike Eagle pilots are tasked with achieving in real world scenarios; “I was fulfilling a critical requirement of graduation from weapons school (at Nellis AFB & the NTTR) – the live drop. It was the first time I realized a jet the size of a tennis court could be invisible. Dropping into the NTTR on its eastern edge we ingress west fast and low, and in spite of the high threat environment we made it undetected to our target on the west side of the range.

Per mission planning we released a full complement of live 2000 lb Mk 84 high drag bombs on target from only 200 ft. By design, the bombs exploded just behind us and we were glad escape the blast pattern in one piece. However, the massive mushroom cloud left in our wake immediately alerted Red Air – ‘strikers low and hot!’ Red Air now knew exactly where we were. With contrails converging on us we throttled up and exited the range at 100 ft AGL traveling Mach 1.1. Even though Red Air knew exactly where we were they did not get a missile shot, and we made it home successfully. The mission validated not only the flight techniques, but the avionics and weapons systems effectiveness in a high threat environment.”

While the F-15E is purpose-built for interdiction or deep strike well behind enemy lines, the success of a mission in the real world often has different measure.

Captain Martin of the 335 FS shared, “I was 2-3 months into my first deployment. A Strike Eagle mission success typically means bombs on target, and missile kills if required. With that perspective I am flying a pretty straightforward mission putting in time on station – but have dropped no bombs, launched no missiles. After some time I receive a call to support ground troops. A relatively small group of our ground troops is on their way back to a forward operating base (FOB) and a hostile crowd is starting to gather around them – to the point that their progress is impeded and they feel an imminent threat. I drop out of the skies in the Strike Eagle, and overfly the threatening crowd at bruising speed and low-level. The crowd disperses quickly, shrinking back to the shadows from where they came. A few moments later when the troops reach their FOB, I receive a heartfelt radio message, ‘Thanks for being there, for helping get us home safely.’ A simple show of force can make a huge difference to what takes place on the ground.” No shots fired, no bombs dropped, nonetheless, a very successful, and personally gratifying mission. As Captain Martin continued, “I can think of doing nothing more personally satisfying than serving my country and protecting our guys on the ground.”

While the preferred outcome of such a well prepared force is deterrence, if tasked the USAF will bring the full force of the Strike Eagle, Wild Weasel Vipers, Raptor and much more to the fight. Weapons school, daily training cycles, Razor Talon, and Red Flag, ensure the USAF remains “razor sharp” and ready to act on short notice.

Special thanks to TSgt. Phillip Butterfield USAF ACC 4 FW/PA, MSgt. Wendy Lopedote USAFR Superintendent Public Affairs, the 916 ARW KC135R with crew from the 911 ARS and F-15E crews from the 4th FW, 335 FS “Chiefs.”

F-22A 1st FW, 94th FS Langley AFB joins on the tanker after taking on fuel during Razor Talon

F-22A 1st FW, 94th FS Langley AFB joins on the tanker after taking on fuel during Razor Talon

Todd Miller is an avid photographer and contributor to a number of Aviation media groups. Utilizing www.flyfastandlow.com as a personal “runway” it is Todd’s goal to reflect the intensity and realism of the military aviation mission, as well as the character and commitment of the military aviation professional.