Saab’s investment in designing a new-generation jet trainer with Boeing has peaked, as the Swedish company looks forward to a selection decision by the US Air Force within the next two years, says chief executive Håkan Buskhe.
“We have spent most of our investment for the important T-X development [in 2016] in the first half-year,” Buskhe told investors during a results briefing on 21 July, while adding: “Of course, there will be some remaining.” This year’s total financial commitment to the opportunity is less than in 2015, he notes, and 2017 will be “significantly lower”.
Potential bidders for the T-X requirement are expecting formal requirements to emerge from the USAF late this year or early in 2017, ahead of an evaluation of candidate types. Buskhe says a decision on how to replace a fleet of aged Northrop T-38s is anticipated in late 2017 or in the first half of 2018.
While Buskhe will not disclose any details about the aircraft designed with Boeing, or comment on when flight testing could take place, he notes that the companies have pursued a “serial-like” product from the start, “instead of doing a lot of prototypes”.
As well as the clean-sheet proposal by the Boeing/Saab team, other bidders for T-X will include a Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries offer using an evolution of the latter’s T-50, a Raytheon/Leonardo offer of the M-346-derived T-100 and a new platform being developed by Northrop in association with BAE Systems.