May 9, 2012: Turkey hired a local firm to develop, build, and install upgraded electronics in the 55 Turkish Air Force T-38 jet trainers. The first upgraded T-38 was recently delivered. All the upgrades will be completed by 2014, and most of the work will be done at a Turkish Air Force maintenance center, with technical support from the local supplier.
Turkey is becoming a major supplier of depot level maintenance and upgrades for commercial and military aircraft. As a member of NATO, the Turkish firms are able to do the work to NATO standards, which is a big draw for business from other NATO nations as well as any nation that wants quality work done inexpensively.
The T-38 has been in use as a trainer for 48 years, and Turkey began receiving them in the 1970s. The U.S. Air Force has over 400 of them for pilot instruction. Air force T-38s are undergoing structural and electronics upgrades, to keep them going for another decade.
Production of some 1,200 T-38s ended in 1972, so all existing models are over 40 years old. The five ton aircraft is actually a variant of the F-5 fighter aircraft (a few of these are still in service). Several other nations use the T-38 but many newer trainer designs are beginning to be bought as replacements.