Boeing/Saab joint T-X design wins Air Force’s jet trainer competition

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Enlarge / The Boeing/Saab T-X has won the Air Force’s advanced jet trainer contract. (credit: Boeing)

Air Force’s T-X next-generation advanced jet trainer contract. Boeing’s joint bid with Swedish aerospace company Saab came in more than 50 percent below the Air Force’s initial cost estimate, shutting out Lockheed and the US subsidiary of Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica). Both of those entities bid trainers based on existing aircraft.

The award comes less than a week after the Air Force awarded a Boeing-Leonardo bid the win for the Air Force’s replacement of its UH-1 nuclear security helicopters. And on August 30, Boeing won the Navy’s MQ-25 unmanned carrier-launched tanker contract.

The T-X is designed to bring pilot training into the 21st century, providing an aircraft to train pilots in the pipeline to fly the F-35 Lightning II. The new jets—at least 351 of them—will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of Northrop T-38 trainers. Those T-38s, based on the Northrop F-5 fighter, have been in service since the 1960s. The new contract also includes 46 training simulators and ground equipment. It could eventually be expanded to 475 aircraft and may also result in international sales to other countries who have committed to buying the F-35.

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