Sources: Boeing plays new airframe card for T-X

Does the US Air Force want to buy an all-new jet to replace the ubiquitous Northrop T-38C, or will it settle for an off-the-shelf option? Will the USAF be pressured to favor an all-US system, or will it be allowed to buy an aircraft with substantial foreign content?

How the USAF answers those questions could make or break one possible strategy Boeing is considering to win the $10 billion T-X contract.

According to my sources, Boeing believes the USAF wants a “purpose-built” jet to replace the T-38C, and, thus, could propose a new airframe packed with mature technologies. Click on the headline below to read my news article, which was published on this morning.

Boeing could propose developing a “purpose-built” airframe as one ofseveral options to replace the US Air Force’s fleet of Northrop T-38jet trainers, say industry officials.

The potential Boeing offer throws a twist into the competitive fieldfor the T-X contract, which could be worth $10 billion and which theUSAF has suggested could range from 350 to 500 new jets.

The USAF has a reputation — perhaps unfairly — for favoring aircraft performance over cost and development risk, especially when it comes to equipping its fighter pilots. But it’s difficult to see how a new-start aircraft development program gets funded over the next several years, given obvious budget trends.


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9 Responses to Sources: Boeing plays new airframe card for T-X

  1. Royce 30 September, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    The last two US trainer contests I can think of are the T-6 for JPATS and the T-45 for the Navy, both of which are off the shelf designs. It doesn’t make much sense to reinvent the wheel unless the T-50 or M-346 just don’t offer what the USAF needs. It sounds like Boeing wants the U.S. to fund construction of a new trainer it can sell to the international market.

  2. Dave 30 September, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    It would be interesting if Boeing developed an all new plane designed specifically to train pilots for the F-22 and F-35. A former USAF IFF IP (who is now back in the CAF) told me the T-38 doesn’t really meet the requirements to prepare students to operate 5th generation machine like the Raptor and probably the F-35.

    If the M-346 was selected, it would kinda interesting considering how the design originated from the partnership with Yak. It could be the first Russian/Soviet origin aircraft flying in the regular USAF (I say regular because obviously the 4477th TES and 6513th Test Squadron flew Soviet aircraft until 1990).

  3. Rolls 30 September, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    Trade wars MkII. Are they not satisfied with the dispute already running?

  4. alloycowboy 30 September, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    Do you really need a new trainer to teach kids of today how to play video games? The T-38 does everything that a training aircraft should do, it teaches airmanship and flying skills. I think it would be better for the air force to spend their money on multipurpose simulators so they can simulate scenarios that you wouldn’t dream of letting a student pilot fly into, such as PIO, Pilot induced Oscillation.

  5. Dave 30 September, 2009 at 11:45 pm #

    For the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF), it’s apparently not suitable for 5th gen fighters, or so I’m told. Currently, students selected for the F-22 B-course attend a special version of IFF where they fly the F-16 for portions of the course to prepare for the transition to the Raptor.

  6. TL 1 October, 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    How long will it be before we hear about the ‘Javelin’ that was proposed as a cheap policing a/c for homeland defense. Any news on what happened to the project???

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