T-39 / CT-39 Sabreliner

The T-39 is the Air Force version of Rockwell's popular Sabreliner executive aircraft. This handy twin-jet utility plane has been used for many purposes: a four-passenger executive transport, light priority cargo and for radar and navigational training. The T-39 Sabreliner is a low wing, twin jet aircraft. The cockpit and cabin compartments are pressurized and soundproofed for high altitude flight. Power is supplied by two Pratt and Whitney, J60 gas turbine engines located on each side of the aft fuselage. The rated sea level static thrust of each engine is 3,000 pounds at military power.

The T-39 was developed by North American Aviation Inc. as a private venture to meet a USAF requirement for a twin jet utility trainer. The prototype T-39 made its first flight on September 16, 1958. In January 1959, the USAF placed a production order and on June 30, 1960, the first production T-39A made its initial flight. In all, 143 T-39As and 6 T-39Bs were built for the USAF.

Another 62 T-39 variants were produced for the Navy. In July 1961, the Navy ordered ten of North American's Model NA-277 to train radar operators. In that order the aircraft was designated T3J-1, but by the time the first one was delivered in 1962, the designation had been changed to T-39D. A total of 52 additional aircraft were accepted. After the bulk of military contracts had been met, the Sabreliner entered the commercial market where it became a highly successful executive jet transport.

The CT-39G aircraft is a twin-jet engined, pressurized, fixed wing, 8 passenger monoplane manufactured by Rockwell International as the -60 Model aircraft. The platform design was subsequently sold to Sabreliner Corporation of St. Louis, MO. Sabreliner Corporation holds all level 3 drawings, but is not in production of aircraft or even spares. Spares are sub-contracted. The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT-12D jet engines. The JT-12D engine and spares are no longer in production. The primary mission of the CT-39G is to provide V.I.P. airlift service at COMFLELOGSUPPWING DET New Orleans, H&HS MCAS Futenma, and MCAS El Toro.

The CT-39G aircraft was procured as a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft certified under an FAA Type Certificate. Throughout its life, the aircraft has been operated and commercially supported by the Navy using FAA processes, procedures, and certifications. It continues to be maintained commercially at all levels of maintenance, and relies on COTS/NDI components and equipment to support airworthiness. Aircraft modification efforts are "turnkey" projects (procurement and installation) implemented as part of competitively awarded maintenance contracts. Where extensive integration efforts are required, the non-recurring engineering phase, including test and certification, is typically performed by Sabreliner Corporation under a sole-source engineering contract with the Navy.

The seven T-39N Sabreliners in US Navy service as of early 2000 were used to train naval flight officers in radar navigation and airborne radar-intercept procedures. These aircraft replaced the Cessna T-47A during the early 1990s, which had had replaced earlier T-39Ds in the training role. One T-39D rapid-response airlift Sabreliner remained in Navy service as of mid-1998.

The Naval Weapons Test Squadron, China Lake (NWTSCL) operates one T-39 Sabreliner. The T-39 is a quick-maneuvering, versatile aircraft for captive flight testing. It is ideal for evaluating various test articles including seekers, fuzes and radar systems. Four project personnel may be present on board for data gathering and system evaluation. The T-39 aircraft is configured with a mounting rack in the radome area that will adapt to many types of seeker, fuze or radar systems. The mounting rack is currently cleared to carry a 160-pound test article with a center of gravity 35.8 inches forward of the fuselage station, 50 bulkhead. Three cameras can be mounted to this rack to provide a forward, 45f down and 45f port field of vision. Test articles up to 14 inches in diameter can be accommodated. There is one altered radome readily available, and another radome that can be altered to accommodate another modified configuration. The aft cabin of the aircraft can be arranged to fit 330 pounds of instrumentation on a rack that covers 2700 cubic inches of space, while carrying four passengers and two pilots. The available power of the test bed includes three phase aircraft power (115 VAC, 10 KVA, 400 Hz), 1 kW inverter (115 VAC, 8.5A, 60 Hz), 3.5 kW converter (120 VAC, 29.16A, 60 Hz) and 28 VDC (50A). Pre-routed wires from the aft cabin area to the radome include: AC/DC Power Cables, Digital Data Cables and Digital/Analog Data lines. Additional pre-routed cables include an Aircraft Audio Cable and AC/DC Power Cable.

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