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Boeing/Saab T-X contender completes first flight

Boeing and Saab have completed the first flight of their contender for the U.S. Air Force T-X training programme. The T-X will replace the Air Force’s ageing Northrop T-38 Talon.

During the 55-minute flight on 20th December, lead Test Pilot Steven Schmidt and Chief Pilot for Air Force Programs Dan Draeger, who was in the seat behind Schmidt, are reported to have validated key aspects of the single-engine jet and demonstrated the performance of the low-risk design.

The pilots prepared for the flight using the complete Boeing T-X system, which includes ground-based training and simulation.

The proposed Boeing/Saab platform features one engine, twin tails, stadium seating and an advanced cockpit with embedded training. Boeing and Saab revealed their first two T-X aircraft in September. The second is currently in ground testing and expected to fly in early 2017.

Initial operating capability is planned for 2024. Other competitors for the contract, expected to involve around 350 aircraft, include Lockeed Martin (which has teamed with Korea Aerospace Industries to offer the T-50), Raytheon (with Alenia Aermacchi, M346) and Northrop Grumman.

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