The Boeing/Saab team which is vying to win the US Air Force's T-X advanced jet trainer recapitalisation contest is on track to accumulate all required information by the end of this quarter, according to the Swedish manufacturer.
"We will be able to fulfil all the flight-test data that's needed by the end of June," says Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe, who hints that the competition could become more than a three-way fight.
In addition to its T-X candidate, which was flown for the first time late last year, the Boeing-led team faces rivals in the form of the Leonardo DRS T-100 and Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries T-50. However, speaking during an earnings call on 26 April, Buskhe noted: "There are also some clean-sheet designs that have not even been presented yet."
Potential bidders were required to submit responses to the USAF's request for proposals earlier this year, and Buskhe indicates that the service could announce its selection in January 2018; it has previously pointed to a decision by the end of this year.
Saab has made a major capital investment in its T-X partnership with Boeing over the past three years, but Buskhe says the scale of the USAF's requirement justifies its commitment. "This will be a contract starting with 351 aircraft, and then probably another 350, and a huge global market. This will have – for us at least – a great impact over the years to come."
Buskhe remains bullish about the clean-sheet Boeing/Saab T-X platform's prospects with the USAF, and says company pilots are very happy with its performance, as a second example has recently joined the test campaign.
"From a technical perspective, I'm extremely sure that we have the best trainer system, with the latest technology," he says, adding: "We can also show that our aircraft is working very well."