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Avalon 2019: Boeing positions T-X to meet RAAF trainer requirements

26 February 2019
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Boeing is in discussions with several international customers – including Australia – about potential sales of the T-X trainer aircraft it developed with Saab. Source: Boeing-Saab

Boeing is in talks with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) about a potential programme to supply the T-X advanced jet trainer the US corporation has developed with Saab, a Boeing executive said at the 2019 Avalon Airshow on 26 February.

Thom Breckenridge, Boeing vice-president of International Sales, Strike Surveillance & Mobility, said in a media briefing that Boeing's preliminary discussions with the RAAF were aimed at gaining an understanding of the force's future pilot trainer requirements.

However, he stressed that a programme has not yet been formalised with the RAAF and Boeing has not considered industrial plans to support any Australian T-X programme in the country.

"We are very focused on discussions with the RAAF about T-X," said Breckenridge. "We are eager to understand the RAAF's needs and to talk with them about the benefits of T-X."

He added, "There are no specific request for proposals in Australia yet, but we do understand that there is a requirement here and we will continue to have discussions with the RAAF about what their needs are and how we can help meet them."

The RAAF's requirement for a new pilot system was outlined in the Australian government's 2016 Integrated Investment Program (IIP), a document that accompanied its defence white paper in the same year. The IIP included a programme to procure a 'lead-in fighter training system' with a timeline of 2022-23 and an approximate investment value of up to AUD5 billion (USD3.6 billion).

The RAAF's pilot trainer requirements are currently met through a mix of Pilatus PC-21 and PC-9 aircraft and related systems and BAE Systems Hawk Mk 127s.

Outside of Australia, Breckenridge said Boeing is in discussions with "several" other international customers and that in the Asia-Pacific region there was a "lot of opportunity" for exports of the T-X trainer.

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