The U.S. Air Force has completed its $50 million video data transfer system (VDTS) and speed break indicator switch (SBIS) modification program on 446 Air Force and 10 U.S. Navy T-38C Talon aircraft. The T-38, which first entered service for the Air Force in 1961, is primarily used by the Air Education and Training Command to train combat-ready pilots for fighter and bomber pilot training.
A T-38 Talon on the ramp at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Photo: U.S. Air Force.
According to Air Force program officials, the VDTS/SBIS program upgraded the aircraft’s video recording capabilities and added a new speed brake position indicator that didn’t previously exist. Angela Micheal, the aircraft division chief and T-38 system program manager, said the modifications were necessary service life extension upgrades for the T-38Cs.
The VDTS modification was implemented as a result of a video tape recorder diminishing manufacturing source issue, Micheal said. This system is important for pilot training as it records flight and cockpit data used to debrief student pilots after training flights.
The SBIS modification added a visual indicator of the speed brake position on the heads-up display that will provide pilots the ability to check the aircraft’s speed brake position during flight.
Additionally, the T-38 will be undergoing upgrades for the USAF Avionics Component Integration Program, which provides avionics upgrades such as ADS-B and component redesigns to address aircraft obsolescence.