Boeing Picked for $9 Billion Air Force Training Jet Program

Marcus Newton
October 1, 2018

The Pentagon released a number of relatively detailed specifics about the deal in its daily contracting announcement on September 27, 2018.

"We were disappointed to learn that the U.S. Air Force did not select our offering", a Lockheed Martin spokesman said in a statement Thursday.

Boeing partnered with Saab to design, build and test two T-X aircraft models in support of the team's bid for the program that seeks to replace the service's fleet of T-38C Talon trainers.

Under the terms of the contract, Boeing will deliver 351 aircraft, 46 training devices and other ground equipment.

The contract allows the Air Force to eventually purchase up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators. The service is initially issuing a contract for $813 million, including engineering and manufacturing development.

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Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson noted that the original cost estimate for the program was $19.7 billion.

The first T-X aircraft and simulators are due to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas in 2023. Full delivery and deployment of the T-X is expected in 2034.

An Air Force spokeswoman declined to comment. There are three major Air Force bases for pilot training, including CAFB. At the fifth lot, the contract transitions to a firm-fixed-price deal. Earlier last week, the Air Force awarded a Boeing-Leonardo team the contract to build a replacement for the UH-1N Huey helicopter, edging out Sierra Nevada Corp. The drone program could be worth up to $13 billion if the Navy acquires the planned total of 72. "We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century". It's harder to find parts and to maintain these old planes. CAFB will receive a new line of trainer jets to replace the almost 60-year-old T38.

Dave Deptula, a retired Air Force general who is dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace studies, called the T-38 a "a great poster child for the geriatric Air Force we now have", arguing the T-X contract should have been bid out long ago.

More than 90 percent of the plane will be made in America. Derivatives of the jet could find themselves taking on new roles in the future, which could further expand the prospective customer base.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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