Northrop Grumman to unveil new T-X design this year

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Marina Malenic, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
09 February 2015

Northrop Grumman will compete for the USAF's T-X with a new aircraft design instead of with the BAE Systems Hawk (pictured). Source: IHS Jane's/Gareth Jennings
Key Points
  • Northrop Grumman is developing a new aircraft for the USAF's T-38C Talon replacement programme
  • The new design was tailored to the USAF's gradually divulged requirements
Northrop Grumman will develop a new aircraft design for the US Air Force's (USAF's) Northrop T-38C Talon combat aircraft trainer replacement programme, known as T-X, the company's programme director for T-X told IHS Jane's on 9 February.

"Northrop Grumman is using our advanced design and prototyping expertise to build a new design for the air force T-X programme [because] the air force has evolved and matured its requirements," said Marc Lindsley.

He added that there was "not a moment in time or one requirement" that caused the team, which still includes BAE Systems, to change direction on its offering.

The new design, a brainchild of the company's Scaled Composites division and its legacy aerospace business, is already being assembled for first flight sometime this year. Lindsley declined to provide any technical details about the new aircraft, citing the looming competition for the project.

BAE Systems will continue to provide the onboard training system for the new aircraft, while L-3 Communications will still build the ground training systems, including simulators, according to Lindsley. General Electric Aviation is currently the engine provider, he added.

According to the USAF's Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016) budget request, a request for proposals (RfP) is to be released in the fourth quarter of FY2016. A contract is to be awarded about a year later.

The FY2016 budget contains a request for USD11.4 million for T-X research and development (R&D). The funding request is planned to escalate over the Future Year Defense Program (FYDP) with USD12.2 million in FY2017, USD107.2 million in FY2018, USD262.8 million in FY2019, and USD275.9 million in FY2020.

A Boeing-Saab team is also planning to offer a fresh design for T-X. Other announced competitors include Textron AirLand, which is planning to enter with a variant of its new Scorpion jet; Lockheed Martin's and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) with KAI's T-50; and General Dynamics and Alenia Aermacchi with the T-100, based on Alenia's M-346 Master.

The USAF has slowly been revealing its T-X 'wish list' to industry, which has been anxious to participate in one of the few USAF aircraft development programmes currently in the works. The service is likely to buy 300-400 of the aircraft to replace its ageing T-38s.

Northrop Grumman to unveil new T-X design this year - IHS Jane's 360
 
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