In replacing the aging and maintenance-needy T-38 fleet, the Air Force plans to buy not only a fleet of aircraft, but an end-to-end training system, including sophisticated ground-based training aids.
Past performance evaluations could be a challenge for Alenia. Last month, the Air Force decided not to renew a contract with the company to train the burgeoning Afghan Air Force to operate its refurbished G222 tactical airlifters, which were purchased by the U.S. This was Alenia’s first prime contract with the Air Force, and the decision came within a year of the service’s decision to terminate purchases of the C-27J, a more modern tactical airlifter, and ground all those that have been delivered.
However, it is unclear whether the service will consider the G222 contract suitable for inclusion in the team’s past performance criteria. More likely, it will assess its performance on the earlier contract with Alenia to convert the old G222s into usable aircraft for the Afghan Air Force. Though they were all delivered, there were times when the company had to pay for excess labor hours because it underestimated the challenge of refurbishing the aircraft.
Ultimately, though, the Air Force is likely to emphasize the cost of developing, procuring and operating the aircraft in its eventual T-X decision.