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​Pilots from the 80th Flying Training Wing taxi down the runway for an initial takeoff in a T-38 Talon on Aug. 11, 2015, at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Air Force photo by Danny Webb.

​Boeing has received an Air Force contract worth up to $855 million to provide avionics component integration and logistics support for the Northrop-built T-38C through 2026; practically to the end of the venerable Talon’s expected service life. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center got two bids, but the competing contractor wasn’t identified in the contract announcement. The work follows on to Boeing’s upgrade of 463 T-38A/B aircraft to T-38C configuration with a digital cockpit. Structural upgrades to the Talon fleet have long been underway with the Pacer Classic program, with the goal of keeping 150 T-38s in service through 2029. Northrop Grumman has been building replacement wingsets for the Talon for more than a decade. The prototype T-38 flew in 1959, and nearly 1,200 aircraft were delivered by the time production ended in 1972. The T-X trainer is set to start replacing the T-38 starting around 2023, and completely replace the Talon by the end of the next decade. Boeing is one of a number of contractors competing for T-X, along with Northrop Grumman. The T-38 is used for advanced fighter/bomber training in the USAF, as well as for dissimilar air combat training in USAF and the Navy. Germany, Taiwan, and Turkey use the jet in their own training programs.