The US Air Force has released a set of draft key performance parameters (KPP) for its prospective T-X jet trainer requirement which would replace the long-serving Northrop T-38 Talon.
The service requires not only an aircraft, but also simulators and computer-aided learning courseware for the new system. The USAF might need as many as 350 T-X aircraft to replace T-38s currently being used for undergraduate pilot training and the introduction to fighter fundamentals course.
The KPPs include a requirement for the prospective aircraft to have an operational availability of no less than 64.7%. It must also be able to sustain 6.5Gs for no less than 15 seconds using no more than 15 degrees nose low attitude at 80% fuel weight between an altitude of 10,000 and 20,000 feet.
Key system attributes (KSA) include the ability to attain a minimum of 7.5G and an onset rate of 3Gs per second. The USAF wants the T-X to be able to attain at least a 12° per second instantaneous turn rate with a sustained turn rate of 9°. It should also be able to conduct angle-of-attack maneuvering at greater than the 20° angle-of-attack. It also needs to have enough fuel for visual range dogfighting and it needs to be able to make dry contacts with an aerial refueling tanker. Other KSAs for the T-X aircraft include having simulated radars, data-links, radar-warning receivers, situational awareness displays and a full glass-cockpit similar to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35. The T-X must also have the ability to simulate a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons including the AIM-120 and Small Diameter Bomb onboard.
The training package must also include networked weapon system trainers (WST), operational flight trainers (OFT), and unit training devices (UTD). The whole system must be able train new students who will eventually fly the F-22.
The simulations must provide visuals equal to 20/20 human vision and must also provide physiological cues to the student. "The WST and OFT shall provide a simulated sense/perception of motion using Combat Edge/G-Suit inflation representative of that which would be experienced in the aircraft at respective maneuvering G-force; as well as a dynamic motion seat," the USAF document reads.
The avionics and other systems must be modular and open architecture and upgradable overtime. Life-cycle costs are required to be no more than $35.3 billion over 20 years in then-year dollars.
A number of contractors have expressed interest in the T-X programme. Lockheed hopes to enter its T-50 into the contest, while BAE Systems will enter its Hawk. Alenia Aermacchi has said it will enter its T-100, based on the M346. Boeing is expected to offer a clean-sheet design.
Industry sources say a formal request for proposal might be released next fall.