The T-X advanced jet trainer offered by Boeing-Saab to US Air Force is a ‘production relevant’ aircraft, asserted Boeing this week. The manufacturer fought hard to clear its stance that it will not take longer to deliver its clean-sheet design as compared to other jets based on operational models.
Ted Torgeson, Boeing’s T-X program manager, met with reporters in St. Louis on May 17th but did not speak much about the twin-tail, single-engine, high-wing design which was rolled out by the company last September.
He declined to tell anything about the investment in the program, the number of hours that have been flown by the two jets that are now working or the work share with Saab. The T-X1 made its first flight on December 20th and the T-X2 flew on April 24.
When asked about the number of hours the jets have flown, Torgeson only said, “They have flown a lot, as many as four times in a day”. He stated that enough data has already being collected by Boeing to fulfill Air Force requirement, including time-stamped cockpit video and audio, to meet the service deadline of June 28.
The value of the T-X program is nearly $16.3 billion, and it include 350 jets and ground-based training systems. It will replace the Northrop T-38 Talons that is being used by Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command for training undergraduate pilot.
After the flight-test data is submitted in June, other contractors can make final proposal revision till late fall. It is expected that one of the jet type will be selected by Air Force by December, and the engineering and manufacturing development phase will be launched thereafter.
The offering made by Boeing-Saab is powered by a GE Aviation F404-GE-402 engine. Other proposals have come from Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries with KAI’s single-engine T-50 Golden Eagle. Italy’s Leonardo and its U.S. Subsidiary DRS Technologies has also made a proposal in the form of twin-engine Alenia Aermacchi M-345 Master.
Rob Weiss, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin stated that his company if the need arises can deliver the T-50 six years before than the clean-sheet design. Air Force can save nearly $1 billion it would otherwise spend on sustaining the T-38.
Torgerson replied back that “I have no rebuttal to that because how do they know? All I know is that we have invested to build two production jets that are ready to go. We have built two aircraft because we wanted to show that we are not just a demonstrator, we have an aircraft that we can build repeatedly.”
in case the T-50A is picked up by Air Force, Lockheed Martin will assemble them in Greenville, South Carolina. The T-100 will be assembled in Tuskegee, Alabama by Leonardo and DRS Technologies.
Boeing will assemble the T-X at St. Louis as announced by it on May 15th, which will create 1,800 direct and indirect jobs. It is the same place where the F/A-18 and F-15 fighters were built by Boeing and it is the former headquarters of its Defense, Space and Security Group.