Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe has provided a bullish assessment of the company’s prospects in pursuing the US Air Force’s future T-X trainer contract with its programme partner Boeing.

“I think we are strong partners,” says Buskhe. “We have set up criteria that we think we need to achieve to have a great chance of winning. Breaking the cost curve, increased performance – that’s something we’re working on.

“The work together and the co-operation with the Boeing company is going tremendously well,” he says, noting that “we have our team in St Louis, and they have people in Linköping”.

Speaking during a financial results briefing in Stockholm on 10 February, Buskhe said: “We haven’t changed our view on both the price and the capability, and the possibility to win” in a future T-X contest.

“Additional investments were made in the development of trainers for the coming T-X procurement process in the United States,” Saab says in its year-end report for last year. “We have for this year a fairly big sum of investment in self-funding in aeronautics,” Buskhe says of 2015, without providing further details. “The main part is connected to our joint efforts together with Boeing.”

The Boeing/Saab team is expected to face competition from a General Dynamics/Alenia Aermacchi partnership offering a T-100 development of the latter’s M-346; Lockheed Martin, which is promoting Korea Aerospace Industries’ T-50; and Northrop Grumman, which on 6 February announced its intention to offer a new platform which it expects to fly for the first time later this year.

USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James said last month that the service is around two years away from releasing a formal request for proposals for the T-X programme, which will provide a replacement for its Northrop T-38 Talon fleet.

T-38 - US Air Force

US Air Force

Meanwhile, Buskhe says Saab expects the financial element of Brazil’s 36-aircraft Gripen E/F procurement to be finalised by around mid-year. “Everyone is working towards that target, and there are no indications that we have any stop in any process,” he says. Sweden also plans to acquire 60 of the type, and he notes: “We see a great possibility to sell around 400 to 450 of the new Gripen E and F” over the life of the programme.

“We are full-speed ahead to develop the Gripen E, and also to execute on the backlog of C/Ds,” says Saab chief financial officer Magnus Örnberg.