In an attempt to shed its foreign brand in the US Air Force trainer replacement competition, Saab will establish manufacturing and production in the United States for its Boeing/Saab T-X advanced trainer aircraft.
Last week, Boeing announced Triumph Aerospace Structures will supply the wing and tail structures for its T-X trainer and revealed Saab would supply the aft fuselage, as the company did for its first two production ready T-X aircraft. During a dramatic announcement at the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference this week outside Washington, D.C., Boeing CEO Leanne Caret and Saab Group Håkan Buskhe told an audience Saab would establish a production capability in the US should the USAF select their bid. Along with Triumph and General Electric, more than 90% of Boeing’s T-X would be made in the US, Caret says.
Saab is pursuing three options in the US, including establishing a new manufacturing facility, working with an existing American sub-supplier to develop a dedicated production facility or acquiring that sub-supplier, Buskhe says. Saab could also acquire an existing manufacturing facility, he says.
Caret would not address whether discussions with President Donald Trump, who has touted an “America first” manufacturing strategy, affected the decision to move Saab’s production to the US. The move marks a longer trend for Saab, which has increased in US presence, Buskhe says. A widening gap between the US dollar and Swedish crown also pushed the business decision, he adds.
Previously, Boeing has alluded to international opportunities for the T-X as well. Caret would not address whether T-X would be manufactured in the US if the USAF does not select the aircraft, adding the company would evaluate production on a customer by customer basis as it approaches procurement opportunities.
“We believe there is a global application and we’ll continue to pursue that,” Caret says.