After more than half a century of
service, the U.S. Air Force has retired that the last of its twin jet T-37B
training aircraft. The replacement is a single engine prop driven aircraft, the
One of the
most successful aircraft designs of the post-World War II era, the Cessna T-37 is a two engine primary jet
trainer with a top speed of only about
680 kilometers an hour. Designed in1953, the
T-37, affectionately nicknamed the "Tweet," entered
service with the Air Force in 1957. Over
the next eight years. 1,268 T-37s were produced in several models, including a
ground attack version, the A-37, which has a much higher speed (830 kilometers
an hour) and somewhat different overall characteristics. Most T/A-37s were
still flying at the end of the Cold War. But since then, they have been retired
at a rapid rate.
versatile T-37 proved an attractive investment for nations wishing to stretch
their defense dollars, and was procured for use by the U.S. and 14 other
countries. The oldest T-37s have logged over 20,000 hours of light time, with
the average well over 12,000 hours.
all USAF T-37Bs completed a SLEP refit, extending their total useful life to
over 30,000 hours. Regarded as a
"user friendly" aircraft, by now the T-37Bs are basically worn
out. The T-6A was selected as its
replacement because this aircraft, based on the very popular Pilatus PC-9,
already had an excellent reputation as a trainer aircraft.