Boeing has unveiled its contender for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer program in a ceremony at St Louis.
Features of the aircraft, designed in partnership with Sweden’s Saab, include a single GE F404 engine, twin tails, what Boeing calls “stadium seating” and advanced avionics. The company revealed that the first aircraft is already undergoing ground testing and should fly before the end of the year, while a second T-X is in the advanced stages of assembly.
Boeing and Saab are one of four teams competing for T-X, as well as Lockheed Martin with Korean Aerospace, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, and Raytheon and Leonardo.
T-X initial operating capability is planned for 2024, with the USAF planning to acquire 350 T-X aircraft to replace its ageing Northrop T-38 Talon trainers. The program may also have longer-term relevance for Australia. The country has included in its 2016 Defence White Paper’s Integrated Investment Program (IIP) document a new $5 billion project to replace the RAAF’s Hawk lead-in fighter trainers. The document lists a timeframe of 2022-2033, a budget of $4-5 billion and details a requirement for “a new lead-in fighter training system to support those students who go on to complete the ADF’s fast jet pilot training.”