DN - Defence Notes

Paris Air Show: BTX focus on USAF competition

12th June 2017 - 12:06 GMT | by Damian Kemp in Mesa


Boeing believes there is a potential market of 2,000 aircraft for its Boeing T-X (BTX) trainer despite this the company remains focussed on its bidding for the US Air Force (USAF) T-X jet trainer replacement 350-aircraft programme.

The BTX is peculiar for Boeing and many companies in that, like commercial programmes but unlike military programmes, the development funding is being provided by Boeing and its partner Saab. The two companies partnered in 2013 and the aircraft flew in early 2016.

Unusually, there will be no ‘fly-off’ with the main competition of the T-50 from Lockheed Martin/Korean Aerospace Industries and the T-100 from Leonardo. Instead the contract award, expected in December, will be based on data provided by the company and will see the manufacture of five engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) aircraft.

Boeing has been awarded an experimental certificate for its two aircraft from the FAA which allows the company to carry out flights and manoeuvres and then submit data as well as voice from cockpit and head-up displays for evaluation. The submission is due on 28 June and a final price revision is due in September.

A company official pushed hard to combat the fact that BTX is the only aircraft in the competition not in service.

‘These are not X planes, they are ready to support USAF and enter the EMD phase… We have flown as many as four times a day and [have turned] sorties around really fast. We are right on the schedule put forward three years ago. We promised to have these aircraft done and flight testing and we did,’ he said.

‘We have been laser focused on the very prescriptive requirements. There is a high wing for maintenance. It has stadium seating so the trainer can see the landing [and] moved leading edge extension back behind the pilot.

‘We knew the customer would eventually want to do air-to-air refuelling we knew that would be a requirement, so we had twin tails for stability and opened up the centre of the aircraft for refuelling. There is power to get out of trouble. If the requirement didn’t state it we didn’t include it,’ the company official added.

The aircraft has the growth potential for hardpoints which would open the aircraft up to the lead-in fighter trainer market and countries which, for example, use armed BAE Systems Hawks, but the company insists that is a later consideration. The company announced on 15 May that future aircraft would be built in St Louis, Missouri.

The bidding companies have created full training solutions including ground-based systems and courseware.

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