Yesterday Boeing and Saab unveiled their contender for the US Air Force’s T-X advanced trainer competition. The twintailed aircraft, powered by a single General Electric F404 afterburning turbofan, joins three other contenders for the competition.
Raytheon is pitching the Leonardo M346 as the T-100, Lockheed Martin is offering a modified version of the KAI T-50, while Northrop Grumman is proposing a design with a single non-afterburning F404 from subsidiary Scaled Composites: that aircraft made its first flight last month.
T-X is a competition to replace the Northrop T-38, which has provided advanced training for the USAF since 1961. The winner stands to produce at least 346 aircraft for the USAF, plus five development aircraft. Moreover, selection by the US almost guarantees significant success in the export market.
Boeing and Saab have produced a clean sheet that draws inspiration from the US company’s F/A-18 and the Swedish company’s Gripen.
Currently the aircraft has only a single hardpoint on the centreline, but the wing’s design provides for additional pylons under the wings if they are required. The companies have completed one aircraft, designated BTX-1, with BTX-2 in the final stages of assembly. Flight trials are expected to begin before the end of the year.