The T-38 Talon is receiving an upgrade that will improve aircrew’s safety and comfort, officials said.
Representatives from Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Inc. are in the early stages of installing their new escape systems in all T-38Cs at Randolph AFB after completing the same project at Laughlin AFB, Texas, the first of five Air Education and Training Command installations scheduled for the upgrade.
The new seat, called the Mk US16T functions well in the situation that accounts for most ejections, said Rick French, an AETC T-38 program manager.
“The best part of the new seat is that it’s a zero-zero seat,” said Rey Gutierrez, a 12th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment instructor. “It will eject at zero altitude and zero airspeed, so the aircrew can bail out on the ground.”
Another advantage for crew members is that they no longer have to carry their 45-pound parachutes to the aircraft, because each one is part of the ejection seat, enclosed in a container called the “head box”. Their only requirement is to wear a 5-pound harness that attaches to the ejection seat.
An additional feature is the inter-seat sequencing system, which decreases the possibility of aircrew collision during ejection and potential aircrew burn, because the rear seat will always eject first, no matter which crew member pulls the seat firing handle located on the front of the seat.
Another advantage of sequencing “is that the rear seat ejects up and to the right, and the front seat ejects up and to the left, so a collision is unlikely,” Mr. Gutierrez said.
Furthermore, the seat decreases the potential of injury to aircrew members, especially at high airspeed, because its thigh and ankle restraints keep them more secure. It also expands the population who can fly the T-38 to anyone from 103 to 245 pounds, because the seat has two positions, including one that moves it one inch forward.
- US Air Force