Leonardo has confirmed that it will participate in the U.S. Air Force T-X competition, despite the decision by U.S. team mate Raytheon to drop out of the contest. The Italian firm is offering its M-346-based T-100 integrated training system. The company’s U.S. affiliate, Leonardo DRS, will be prime contractor on the bid. CAE, Leonardo’s partner on the ground-based training systems (GBTS) delivered for the M-346, will support development of the T-100 GBTS.
Leonardo maintains that the T-100 will be a U.S.-based programme that will bring significant economic benefits to the U.S. through a newly established and skilled U.S. work force, in addition to the technological and industrial capabilities embedded in newly built U.S.-based manufacturing facilities.
The T-100 is described by Leonardo as a proven, low-risk alternative, since the M-346 is already in service in Italy, Israel and Singapore.
As the Northrop/BAE Systems team have also thrown in the towel, the two main remaining contenders are Boeing/Saab, with their all-new design rolled out in September, and Lockheed Martin/Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), who are offering the T-50A, based on South Korea’s in-service FA-50.
The T-X will replace the aging T-38 Talon, which is no longer able to fully prepare Air Force pilots for advanced new-generation aircraft. The Air Force says it plans to award a contract for 350 T-Xs to replace the 431 T-38s in the fall of 2017, with initial operational capability by the end of 2023.