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U.S. Air Force to select new trainer aircraft in just a few weeks

The U.S. Air Force will soon award a potential $16B contract to build 350 next-generation trainer aircraft to one of three competing aircraft teams.

According to officials, the U.S. Air Force ( USAF) will select a new trainer aircraft in just a few weeks, by the end of the fiscal year. The USAF expects a contract award for advanced pilot training system for replacing the Northrop T-38 Talon by September 30.

The USAF has received final proposals from the Boeing–Saab alliance, Leonardo DRS and the Lockheed Martin–Korea Aerospace Industries team vying for a potential $16B contract to build the military service’s next trainer aircraft.

The U.S. military branch originally planned to award the T-X contract in late 2017, then pushed back its announcement date to March 2018.

With regard to the proposals for the USAF’s ongoing T-X competition, Boeing and Saab offered all-new advanced pilot training system designed specifically for the U.S. Air Force training mission.

According to the Boeing–Saab alliance, the new T-X platform includes trainer aircraft, ground based training and support – designed together from the ground up.

“In a highly competitive race to give the American military a replacement for its aging T-38 trainer aircraft, Boeing T-X is the only offering that is more than 90% made in America and 100% made for the U.S. Air Force,” – also noted in alliance.

Boeing designed, built and flew the first T-X in only 36 months. “We built a special culture here with T-X. Our team dedicated a lot of time and talent to it, and we have already accomplished incredible things. I’m proud to be a member of this team,” said Ted Torgerson, T-X senior director.

Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries, Ltd. (KAI) have offered T-50A , that based on the Korea Aerospace Industries T-50 aircraft. According to companies, the T-50A is made to train 5th Generation pilots. The F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II have advanced capabilities that have never before been available.

“Advanced pilot training is the key to making the most of those capabilities. There is no more effective or affordable way than the T-50A to train the next generation of pilots to fly, fight and win. With more than 150,000 flight hours on the T-50 air frame, the T-50A is ready to deliver ahead of schedule,” said in Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries.

The third participant is Leonardo Diagnostic/Retrieval Systems (DRS) with their M346-based T-100. The T-100 Integrated Training System (ITS) is the solution offered by Leonardo DRS in the T-X competition for the U.S. Air Force’s advanced pilot training system program.

The T-100, the next generation advanced jet trainer based on Leonardo’s M-346, is a twin-engine, tandem-seat aircraft purpose-designed for a wide range of training missions, long-term reliability and cost-effective operations.

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