Visitors fly to Sheppard Air Force Base Open House and Air Show

A glimpse into the fu­ture at a possible replace­ment trainer aircraft for the Air Force’s T-38 Talon was on display Oct. 1. The BAE Systems Hawk Advanced Jet Training System and two Royal Air Force Hawk trainer aircraft from the United Kingdom visited the Shep­pard Air Force Base Open House and Air Show as part o f BAE Systems’ Na­tional Road Show.

Robert Wood, vice president and lead for the BAE Systems Inc. Hawk Advanced Jet Training System team, said his company’s system allows pilots to train in an air­craft that is similar to the newest fifth-generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Light­ning II. And they want to be in the running as a possible replacement for the T-38.

“We are very excited about this because we have built over 900 train­ers in 18 countries, and we want to be a potential lead-in trainer for the Air Force. Our main goal is to train the pilots to man­age the advanced sys­tems and sensors in the fifth-generation fighters. There is a lot going on in the cockpit of an F-35, and the T-38, because it is 50 years old, does not have the same technol­ogy a s w e c an o f fer i n a new trainer,” Wood said. BAE Systems has a trailer set up at the air show with displays that include the Hawk Ad­vanced Jet Training Sys­tem interactive touch­screen display, which allows attendees to see how live and virtual training are blended in the new system. They also have a Hawk AJTS cockpit simulator which realistically immolates the flight experience for students, a desktop train­er student pilots can use to monitor their training and syllabus in real time, and a debriefing station where instructors can give feedback to students after sorties.

Flight Lt. Luke Munton, a Royal Air Force in­structor pilot, said the first class of student pi­lots training on the new system in the U.K. will begin in April 2012, and because they will have been trained on the Hawk Advanced Jet Training System, they will be fa­miliar with the advanced systems of those fifth ­generation fighters be­fore they ever get into an actual cockpit.

“This system allows them to practice every­thing in the simulator so it is not all new to them when they actually do fly,” Munton said. “Being able to use the simulators saves money and fuel, it is safer, and it gets a bet­ter product to the front line.”

Nat Makepeace, an ex­perimental test pilot for BAE Systems, flew one of two Hawk trainer aircraft to the air show at Shep­pard from the United Kingdom on a five-day trip that took him across the northern Atlantic and into the U.S.

He said even though the fundamentals of fly­ing haven’t changed, be­cause of the technologi­cal advances of newer aircraft like the F-35, pilots must be able to multitask and process a lot more information than they did 50 years ago when the T-38 was developed. The new trainer would allow stu­dent pilots to practice those skills before they are assigned to the new generation of aircraft.

“The biggest difference between this aircraft and the T-38 is in the mission systems. The flying of military aircraft in terms of flying skills is easier, but in terms of time-man­agement and processing a lot of information very quickly, it is harder and harder,” Makepeace said. “The pilots are training in these systems before they are ever in a combat situation.”

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