PARIS: BAE and Northrop to announce T-X production location before year’s end

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BAE Systems and partner Northrop Grumman are set to announce where they intend to build the Hawk jet trainer for the US Air Force's T-X advanced jet trainer replacement programme before the end of the year, says a top company official speaking at the Paris air show.

But there are questions as to whether the USAF has the money to pay for a replacement for the venerable Northrop T-38 Talon. Earlier in the year, Gen Edward Rice, head of the Air Education and Training Command, said that even before the cuts mandated by the Congressional sequestration law went into effect, the service did not have the money allocated to pay for a new trainer.

Later in the year, USAF chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh and outgoing air force secretary Michael Donley said that while the service needed a T-38 replacement, it does not have the money to pay for such a programme.

But Bob Wood, who leads BAE's T-X campaign, says he believes the USAF will make room in its fiscal year 2015 budget proposal for the T-38 replacement. If the service intends to meet its 2023 initial operational capability date, it has to get the programme funded during the next budget cycle, Wood says.

Wood says that the service has little choice but to replace the T-38 at some point, so the T-X programme will continue.


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