Boeing wins USAF T-X trainer competition

Boeing sees market for up to 2,600 T-X advanced trainer aircraft

By Dario Leone
May 20 2019
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The U.S. Air Force required up to 475 T-X advanced trainer aircraft and the numbers do not include replacing the T-38 in the Aggressor and companion trainer roles.

William Torgerson, senior director of T-X program, at its factory tour for the media at Boeing’s St. Louis that the aerospace giant sees a potential market for up to 2,600 T-X advanced trainer aircraft.

According to Torgerson the U.S. Air Force required up to 475 trainers and the numbers do not include replacing the T-38 in the Aggressor and companion trainer roles.

He added that the two jets built for the competition will soon resume flying. The first T-X flew 71 times during the contest, while the second jet flew 15 times. To demonstrate their reliability, they were flown up to four times a day during the competition, “which is how the Air Force is going to use them,” he noted.

According to Air Force Magazine, Boeing is facilitizing to build up to 48 jets a year for USAF, but can increase the rate to 60 if the service wants to accelerate the program in some years, or if there are foreign sales, Torgerson said.  

Depending on the potential customer country, either Boeing or Saab, its T-X partner, will head up the capture effort, Torgerson explained, suggesting Saab will take the lead when the customer country already operates Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter. Saab announced last week it will build its portion of the T-X in West Lafayette, Ind. While he would not give too much detail about the workshare between the companies, Torgerson said that, broadly, Saab will build the rear fuselage, starting at a “break point” immediately behind the tandem cockpit. Boeing will build the wings, empennage, and the forward portion of the T-X.

Torgerson said the T-X should do well in international sales, because “no one can compete with our price” on a comparable jet, noting the Air Force has said Boeing’s proposal “saved them $10 billion.”

For commonality and cost, the T-X displays are the same as on Boeing’s advanced F-15s for Qatar, which would equip the F-15EX the Air Force requested in its fiscal 2020 budget. The touch-screen system requires no special gloves to function.

Boeing is to provide initial aircraft to pilots at JBSA-Randolph, Texas in 2023 and initial operational capability for the T-X is planned for 2024.

The T-X will largely be an aluminum airplane, Torgerson told Air Force Magazine, and the only composite structure on the jet will be the nose. A metal airplane is easier to manufacture and easier to repair, he said, and the use of lighter-weight materials wasn’t a requirement as “we didn’t have to squeeze every speck of performance” out of the design, given that it’s not intended to be a front-line combat airplane. Even so, the T-X is described as having the ability to pull more than 8Gs.

Boeing sees market for up to 2,600 T-X advanced trainer aircraft

Photo credit: Boeing


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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