The USAF Advanced Pilot Training Program (T-X) competition took another twist today. Aircraft company Leonardo confirmed it's carrying on in the contest for the contract to replace 400 T-38 training jets, which have been in service for over 50 years, as a solo bidder. Leonardo had previously been working in partnership with Raytheon to present the T-100 trainer and its integrated training system as an entrant.

On January 25, Raytheon announced that it – and Leonardo – were withdrawing from the T-X competition for unspecified reasons. That seemed to be the end of the matter, but Leonardo has decided to go it alone through its US company, Leonardo DRS, acting as prime contractor and the aircraft being built at a new US manufacturing plant.

The two-seater T-100 is derived from the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master jet trainer that is currently in service with the Italian, Israeli, and Singaporean air forces. The T-100 is powered by twin F124 turbofan engines developed by Honeywell Aerospace's International Turbine Company, which Leonardo says has the best-in-class thrust-to-weight ratio. In addition, the jet has an embedded tactical training system that provides immersive training for pilots using realistic mission scenarios.

The T-100 is based on the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master jet trainer(Credit: Leonardo)

"Leonardo's commitment to pursue the T-X builds on our deep experience in military pilots' training and on the competitiveness of our T-100 integrated Training Systems that can meet the U.S. Air Force's current and future needs," says Mauro Moretti, CEO and General Manager of Leonardo.

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