Boeing Wins $9.2B Contract for New Air Force Training Jet

Boeing Wins $9.2B Contract for New Air Force Training Jet

Boeing Co was selected to build the US Air Force's next training jet in a contract worth up to $9.2 billion over the life of the program, the Air Force said on Thursday.

In addition to T-X fighter and bomber training aircraft, Boeing will supply the Air Force with simulators and associated ground equipment. The so-called T-X will replace the Air Force's venerable T-38 trainer, which first entered service in 1961.

Korean aircraft manufacturer KAI has lost a multibillion dollar contract to build next-generation training aircraft for the US Air Force, thwarting its plans to expand exports, the company said Friday. The first T-X aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas in 2023. The contract calls for the plane to be ready for full operational deployment by 2034.

The USAF contract also ensures Boeing maintains a presence in military fast jets as its F-15 and F/A-18 Super Hornets are retired in the coming years. All undergraduate pilot training bases will eventually transition from the T-38 to the T-X. That approach may have raised the stakes somewhat: if the Air Force had gone with another company's plane, Boeing would have sunk millions of its own research and development capital into the project to little reward. Boeing and Triumph officials have previously said that orders for hundreds more of the training aircraft could also be placed by foreign military forces.

The Air Force took a number of steps ahead of the T-X program to boost competition and buy down risk, service acquisition officials told reporters September 27 at the Pentagon.

It's been a long race for the right to build the U.S. Air Force's next trainer jet, but the competition finally has a victor.

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"Through competition we will save at least $10 billion on the T-X program", she said in a statement.

The losing bidders included Lockheed Martin and Italy's Leonardo and, according to the Wall Street Journal, those companies are likely to appeal the decision.

The original Air Force cost estimate for the program was $19.7 billion for 351 new trainers. CAFB will receive a new line of trainer jets to replace the almost 60-year-old T38.

"The announcement is good news for Saab, Boeing's main partner in the F-X program".

Boeing said the project will support more than 17,000 jobs in 34 states, with much of the work done at Boeing's facilities in St. Louis.

The advances used on the T-X Trainer jets range from using 3-D printing for the plane's ductwork to a canopy developed with injection molding that shaves a six-week process down to eight days, executives told reporters after the Boeing model was unveiled in 2016.

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