June, 25

    Thunderstorm damage to Vance’s T-6 fleet will slow pilot training

    Featured in:

    Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma is inspecting its entire fleet of T-6 Texan II training aircraft for damage after a severe thunderstorm swept through on July 21, delaying undergraduate pilot training by at least two weeks.

    It’s the latest hiccup in pilot training as the service pushes to graduate nearly 1,500 new aviators this fiscal year, hoping to chip away at a perennial pilot shortage.

    The thunderstorm battered the T-6s with winds over 70 mph, blowing off their protective covers and prompting concerns about debris in the engines and other structural problems, the Air Force said.

    At least 12 T-6s require intensive repairs before they can return to flight, base spokesperson Terri Schaefer said. Local leaders have opted to check the entire fleet of 99 Texan IIs for structural and mechanical damage as a safety precaution.

    The 71st Flying Training Wing resumed flight operations on Sunday, two days after the storm, while Air Force mechanics and contractors continue inspecting aircraft. Schaefer said Vance expects to return to normal operations by Aug. 4.

    T-6s were the only airframe affected at Vance, which also flies the T-1 Jayhawk and T-38 Talon trainers. It’s too early to tell how much it may cost to repair them.

    It’s unclear what longer-term ripple effects the storm may have on the pilot training process, which requires classes of students to move on to their next aircraft before new airmen are allowed to start. More than 260 undergraduate students are currently assigned to Vance, Schaefer said.

    The T-6 is the first military aircraft a new student touches as part of the undergraduate pilot training curriculum. Earning pilot’s wings in the T-6 takes about seven months, at which point a trainee is selected to continue on the fighter-bomber track or the mobility track.

    Slowing or pausing T-6 flights can cause repercussions farther down that line.

    “The pilot training pipeline has been impacted by this storm, and officials are discussing how to make up for the time lost to meet production numbers,” Vance spokesperson Tech. Sgt. James Bolinger said.

    This isn’t the first time Mother Nature has intervened in pilot training.

    In February 2016, a hailstorm tore through Laughlin AFB, Texas, pelting the training base with chunks of ice that caused enough damage to ground 80% of its aircraft. In October 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall AFB, Florida, the Air Force’s sole training site for the F-22 Raptor fighter fleet. And several training installations were among those hit by Winter Storm Uri and other squalls in early 2021.

    The Air Force is also working through delays elsewhere in the training pipeline. Earlier this year, the service projected a slowdown in T-38 engine repairs would hinder aircraft availability until at least September, among other issues related to staffing and the inventory’s age.

    Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.

    Source link

    Find us on

    Latest articles

    - Advertisement -

    Related articles

    Stratolaunch sets sights on hypersonic speeds for next Talon-A...

    Following a successful test flight in which its Talon-A vehicle reached near-hypersonic speeds, Stratolaunch is preparing...

    Britain finalizes deal to buy 14 Chinook helicopters

    LONDON — Britain’s defense secretary has committed to a deal to acquire a new fleet of...

    Revamped KC-46 vision system slipping into 2026, nearly two...

    The rollout of the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s new remote vision system will likely slip into...

    Pentagon may build a second track for hypersonic ground...

    The Pentagon is exploring options to build a second track to test hypersonic systems that can...

    India approves full development of fifth-generation fighter

    CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — India’s Cabinet Committee on Security has given a green light to continue...

    Pentagon clears F-35 for full-rate production

    The Defense Department said Tuesday it has officially made its long-awaited decision to move forward with...