The contest to build the US Air Force's next-generation jet combat trainer aircraft has come to an end, with Boeing winning the US$9.4 billion contract to build the T-X jet. Along with partner Saab, Boeing will supply the Airforce with 351 jets, 46 simulators and assorted ground equipment to replace the Air force's half-century old fleet of T-38 trainers.
Boeing say the announcement allows it and Saab to begin placing orders with suppliers as they ramp for full production. The T-X is scheduled to enter service sometime around 2024 and the initial order of 351 airframes could expand to as many as a thousand.
So far, two prototypes have been built and flown as part of the competition, which included companies like Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, KAI, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Sierra Nevada, TAi, Stavatti, and Textron AirLand.
The Boeing T-X has twin tails derived from Boeing's F/A-18 for greater maneuverability and a high angle of attack, stadium seating, and an advanced cockpit with embedded training systems. It has the ability to blend with state-of-the-art ground-based training and is billed as being maintenance-friendly in anticipation of decades of service.
"Today's announcement is the culmination of years of unwavering focus by the Boeing and Saab team," says Leanne Caret, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centered on the unique requirements of the US Air Force. We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century."
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