T-7 Red Hawk, T-50 Golden Eagle, M-346 Master and F-22 Raptor: the great ambitions of the US Air Force's RFX Reforge program

In 2018, the US Air Force selects Boeing and the Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab as part of the TX competition, aimed at providing a new advanced training aircraft to replace the old T-38 Talons in service in the USA. Designated T-7 Red Hawk, the new Boeing / Saab aircraft has proven to be particularly mature for a simple prototype, and should be operational by 2024. Despite this fairly short delay for a new plane, the USAF quickly signaled its intention to rent aircraft from advanced training pending the arrival of the Red Hawk. Indeed, in addition to replacing the Talon for pilot training missions, the USAF aims to use its new advanced training aircraft as part of its program Rebuilding the Forge.

More commonly known as Reforge, this program aims to use new simulation and training technologies, as well as the high performance of modern training aircraft, to considerably shorten the duration of the pilot training course. Far from only impacting the pilots' careers, Reforge could have a direct impact on the operational preparation of the USAF, by releasing a large number of fighters hitherto used for the operational transition of pilots. The fleet of F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft could be the main beneficiary of this Reforge program. But for Reforge to be quickly tested and implemented, the USAF needs advanced training aircraft next year. Ironically, the RFX competition has therefore been relaunched in recent weeks in order to select an interim aircraft from among the losers in the TX competition.

T-50 was the big loser in TX competition, but could make a comeback on a much smaller scale as part of the Reforge program

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