$250 million program will revamp Air Force training jet

By ZACK HEDRICKNews 4 San AntonioFacebook{}| TwitterJOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH -- A ceremony was held at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Friday, celebrating the first completed structural modifications to an integral part of Air Force pilot training.Friday morning they celebrated the first of many more to come."The program is currently set to do 125," said Brig. Gen. Carl Buhler. Maintenance squadrons at Randolph Air Force Base will begin stripping down more than 50-year old trainer jets to their skeletons and revamping them to extend their service life to the year 2029.The T-38 has been training Air Force pilots since the late 1950s. The 575th Maintenance Squadron is tasked with replacing and inspecting more than 300 parts on these planes to get them airborne again, a job that takes about 8 months and costs about $2 million per plane.Mechanics like Scott Kennedy are looking forward to the task."It's never been this far in depth," said Kennedy. "I've spent the better part of 30 years of my life working on this platform. I don't want to be working on anything else."The training jet is used to prepare pilots for planes like the F-16, F-22, and even bombers.Buhler says the $250 million program will save taxpayer's money in the long run."It allows us to take an existing airplane and to refurbish it and extend the life years out as opposed to right now trying to find an alternate source," said Buhler.So far pilots have given the modifications rave reviews.The project will also bring jobs to the base.Leaders of the maintenance squadron say they've added around 100 jobs over the past year, with 60 more to be filled."This aircraft will definitely be around for a long time to come," said Kennedy.

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