Features of the aircraft, designed in partnership with Sweden’s Saab, include a single GE F404 engine, twin tails, what Boeing calls “stadium seating” and advanced avionics.
The first aircraft has already been undergoing ground testing and should fly before the end of the year, while a second T-X is in the advanced stages of assembly, Boeing revealed.
Boeing and Saab are one of four teamings competing for T-X, as well as Lockheed Martin with Korean Aerospace, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, and Raytheon and Leonardo.
T-X initial operating capability is planned for 2024, with the USAF planning to acquire 350 T-X aircraft to replace its ageing Northrop T-38 Talon trainers. A final RFT is due for release by the end of this year, with selection of the winning design planned for 2017.
The T-X program may also have longer-term relevance for Australia. Included in the 2016 Defence White Paper’s Integrated Investment Program (IIP) document is a new $5 billion project to replace the RAAF’s Hawk lead-in fighter trainers.
The IIP details a requirement for “a new lead-in fighter training system to support those students who go on to complete the ADF’s fast jet pilot training.”
The IIP lists a timeframe of 2022-2033 and a budget of $4-5 billion.