Monday, September 19, 2016

Clean Sheet T-X Designs Stir Up Excitement, But Face Uphill Battle

Four competitors, two clean sheet designs and $11 billion at stake. The Air Force’s T-X trainer competition is heating up, and now that all four proposed aircraft have been made public, the field couldn’t be any more varied.  

In the run up to the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference, aviation enthusiasts got a glimpse of the two purpose-built trainers — a twin-tailed plane manufactured by a Boeing-Saab team and a compact design from Northrop Grumman, which is partnered with BAE Systems and L-3.

Those companies will be going up against at least two teams that are proposing modified versions of trainers operated by foreign air forces. And as exciting as the promise of shiny new aircraft can be, Northrop and Boeing will have to prove to the service that their T-X proposals are as affordable and low-risk as their rivals, analysts told Defense News.

"The challenge is, can the clean sheet designs catch up to T-50 and to a lesser extent, the T-100?” asked Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS research, referencing the Lockheed Martin and Raytheon offerings. “Can the clean sheet designs catch up and demonstrate what the off-the-shelf aircraft already have?"  more