The Marine Corps is on track to increase T-45C Goshawk pilot production in fiscal year 2018, and the Navy anticipates it will be at pre-operational pause levels by the end of November, according to senior service officials.
"We were good in FY-17 because we had pilots that were already in the pool," Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation, told reporters following a Nov. 9 House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing.
"We just received a brief [about production for FY-18] the other day and it looks like they're going to be able to recoup and get back on staff," he said. "We're actually positive about the T-45 production scaling."
Rudder said the Marine Corps had many transition pilots, which helped to fill seats in the fleet replacement squadrons.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of naval air forces, who testified with Rudder, told reporters the Navy has 143 modified airplanes and has two qualification detachments: one at Naval Air Facility El Centro, CA, and one at Shaw Air Force Base, SC. In October, Rear Adm. (sel.) Sara "Clutch" Joyner told reporters the Navy is permitting the 65 percent of its T-45C Goshawk training aircraft outfitted with a new temperature and oxygen pressure system to fly.
"There's no disruption right now to the fleet," Shoemaker said, adding that he expects the gap to peak in between "early spring of [2019 and] December of '19."
With more than 15,000 hours flown, the Navy has had only five physiological episodes, according to Shoemaker. Three of those incidents were later attributed to dehydration, fatigue and a mistake in operating procedure respectively.
The conference version of the FY-18 defense authorization bill includes a provision allowing the defense secretary to establish "a prize competition designed to accelerate the identification of root causes of, and solutions to, physiological episodes experienced in Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force training and operational aircraft," according to the conference report.