T-38A Talon (1959)

The F-15E's deep-strike mission is a radical departure from the original intent of the F-15 since it was designed as an air-superiority fighter under the mantra "not a pound for air-to-ground." The basic airframe, however, proved versatile enough to produce a very capable strike fighter. The F-15E, while designed for ground attack, retains the air-to-air lethality of the F-15, and can defend itself against enemy aircraft

Northrop: T-38A Talon

Role Advanced trainer
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
First flight 10 April 1959
Introduction 17 March 1961
Status Operational
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
Turkish Air Force
Produced 1961–1972
Number built 1,146
Developed from Northrop N-156
Variants Northrop F-5

Northrop Millitary

T-38A Talon (1959)

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T-38A Talon (1959)

The Northrop T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twinjet supersonic jet trainer. It was the world’s first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2021 in several air forces.

The United States Air Force (USAF) operates the most T-38s. In addition to training USAF pilots, the T-38 is used by NASA. The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland is the principal US Navy operator (other T-38s were previously used as USN for Dissimilar air combat training until replaced by the similar Northrop F-5 Tiger II). Pilots of other NATO nations fly the T-38 in joint training programs with USAF pilots.

As of 2020, the T-38 has been in service for over 50 years with its original operator, the United States Air Force.

In September of 2018, USAF announced the replacement of the Talon by the Boeing T-7 Red Hawk with phaseout to begin in 2023.


In 1952 Northrop began work on a fighter project, the N-102 Fang, with shoulder-mounted delta wing and a single-engine.[1] The proposed General Electric J79 engine, weighing nearly two tons, meant the resulting aircraft would be large and expensive.[2] Then in 1953, representatives from General Electric Aviation‘s newly created Small Aircraft Engine Department showed Northrop a relatively tiny engine (around 400  lb installed weight) capable of 2,500  lb of thrust and Northrop VP-Engineering Edgar Schmued saw the possibility of reversing the trend toward the large fighters. Schmued and chief engineer Welko Gasich decided on a small twin-engine “hot-rod” fighter, the N-156. Northrop began its N-156 project in 1954, aiming for a small supersonic fighter jet capable of operating from the US Navy’s escort carriers. However, when the Navy chose not to pursue equipping its fleets in that fashion, Northrop continued the N-156 design using in-house funding, recasting it as a lightweight fighter (dubbed N-156F) and aimed at the export market.


  • German Air Force – 46 T-38A in 1968, now upgraded to T-38C. All aircraft are stationed at Sheppard AFB, Texas and are painted in US markings.[30]
 South Korea
 Taiwan (Republic of China)
 United States

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Northrop T-38A Talon (1959)

The USAF Strategic Air Command (SAC) had T-38s in service from 1978 until SAC’s 1991 inactivation. These aircraft were used to enhance the career development of bomber and tanker copilots through the “Accelerated Copilot Enrichment Program.” They were later used as proficiency aircraft for all B-52, B-1, Lockheed SR-71, U-2, Boeing KC-135, and KC-10 pilots. SAC’s successors, the Air Combat Command (ACC) and the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) continue to retain T-38s as proficiency aircraft for U-2 pilots and B-2 pilots, respectively


    • Crew: 2
    • Length: 46 ft 4.5 in (14.135 m)
    • Wingspan: 25 ft 3 in (7.70 m)
    • Height: 12 ft 10.5 in (3.924 m)
    • Empty weight: 7,200 lb (3,266 kg)
    • Gross weight: 11,820 lb (5,361 kg)
    • Max takeoff weight: 12,093 lb (5,485 kg)
    • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric J85-5A afterburning turbojet engines.
  • Maximum speed: 746 kn (858 mph, 1,382 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.3
  • Range: 991 nmi (1,140 mi, 1,835 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 33,600 ft/min (171 m/s) [72]
  • Wing loading: 69.53 lb/sq ft (339.5 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.65

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The F-5 was also developed into a dedicated reconnaissance version, the RF-5 Tigereye. The F-5 also served as a starting point for a series of design studies which resulted in the Northrop YF-17 and the F/A-18 naval fighter aircraft. The Northrop F-20 Tigershark was an advanced variant to succeed the F-5E which was ultimately canceled when export customers did not emerge.

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