Boeing and its partner Saab unveiled their candidate for the USAF T-X trainer competition in St. Louis on 13th September. T-X will replace the Air Force’s aging T-38 aircraft. The initial acquisition is expected to comprise 350 aircraft and associated ground-based training and support systems.
The Boeing/Saab aircraft is an all-new design aimed specifically at the USAF training mission, and takes advantage of the latest technologies, tools and manufacturing techniques. At the same time, it avoids large-scale use of composites and re-uses proven components — e.g. the F-16 landing grear — to hold down costs. Workshare arrangements between the two companies have not been disclosed.
Boeing and Saab list the following key features:
- Fighter-like design and performance: twin tails, GE F404 engine, and high G and high angle-of-attack capability. The twin-tail design offers improved stability and is visually similar to current and future fighters, to enhance training. Twin tails provide excellent control, inherent speed break functionality, and safer air refueling.
- Stadium seating, allowing for ideal instructor positioning and visibility for flight instruction, from teaching basic traffic pattern operations to advanced visual air combat training.
- Maintenance-friendly design: high wings, easy access panels and easy reach. The design focuses on accessibility, fewer and more common fasteners, and readiness of critical items.
- A modern fighter-like cockpit, flexible avionics and a reconfigurable large-area display allow students and instructors a maximum range of training options.
- Safety designed-in: fly-by-wire flight controls, ample thrust, and excellent handling at all speeds, configurations and high angle-of-attack.
First flight is expected before the end of the year. A second aircraft is in final assembly. Initial operating capability is planned for 2024.