Boeing Wins Big Again And Claims The USAF's Huge T-X Jet Trainer Deal

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Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Jan 31, 2009
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Boeing Wins Big Again And Claims The USAF's Huge T-X Jet Trainer Deal
The victory is Boeing's third major US military aircraft contract less than two months.

Boeing's T-X Win Is Really Much Bigger Than Just Building A Replacement For The T-38
Boeing's big win has wide-ranging impacts that go far beyond the USAF's need for a new trainer alone.

Selected excerpts:

If the T-38 [and F-5 - W] is any indication, this plane will be flying for many decades, likely until a human isn't really needed in the cockpit for most missions. That means there will be a steady flow of support and development contracts over the life of the fleet. Being the OEM, Boeing has by far the best chance of winning those contracts and in some cases, they will come without competition. And once again, and maybe most importantly, it keeps the company in the tactical jet production game for the long term.

... this jet isn't just a trainer, it's also a light fighter. In fact, it has the same base powerplant as the F-20—an aircraft that was notorious for its agility and raw performance. When compared to its T-38 predecessor, the thrust difference alone is staggering.

The T-38's two J85 turbojets provide 5,800lbs of thrust combined. Boeing's T-X, with its single GE-F404 turbofan, has nearly three times that at roughly 17,200lbs of thrust. The jet also has twin tails, slats, and big leading-edge root extensions (LERXs) that will provide exceptional low-speed handling and general agility.

The USAF has always eyed the T-X as a potential next-generation aggressor platform, offering somewhere close to F-16's performance but at far lower operating and acquisition cost.

The small size of the T-X will make it a real challenge to spot during within-visual range fights. Based on the design and the amount of thrust it has—as much as a JAS-39 Gripen multi-role fighter—it could turn out to be a very nasty little jet to tangle with. Even the embedded training systems that will be a main staple of the T-X, in general, could help provide expanded realistic air-to-air training at far lower costs than what has been realized in the past. Also, considering it will be able to lug around jamming pods and captive training missiles, it could really fill the role of a 4th generation bad guy nicely without major modifications. But strap on a small AESA radar and an electronic warfare system or infrared search and track—podded or internal—and you don't only have an incredible aggressor aircraft but also a straight-up affordable light fighter.

The Pentagon has no requirement for a light fighter aircraft today, but in the future one based on Boeing's T-X could be exported abroad much like the F-5 was decades ago. Lockheed's T-X entrant, the T-50/T-100, has done just that, with the F-50 and FA-50 version being exported by South Korea's Korean Aerospace Industries to multiple air arms around the globe.

Considering it is more about sensors, communications, and munitions than raw performance and weight-lifting capabilities when it comes to succeeding in most aspects of air combat these days, a fighter version of Boeing's T-X could offer a lot of capability in a small and relatively cheap package. But most of all, it would have a huge support infrastructure in place that benefits from economies of scale thanks to its trainer cousin.





Huge cockpit. Great all around visibility. With the tricycle landing gear I see future foreign sales as a carrier variant. Lots of bang for the buck.
Having flown the T-38 a long time ago, its sad to see it go. Having said that It's time has past.
The T-38 could not support the Avionics needed to train the next generation of pilots.
The T-X will prepare Air Force pilots much better for the F-35 and F-22, Even the F-16 and F-15.
The Talon could not hold 6Gs for extended time, I'm betting that the T-X will hold 6+Gs as long as the pilot wants to
Power is good!
Looks like the top speed of the T-38 is going to be slightly higher than the T-X, 858mph Vs 808mph. Both
are supersonic, so COOL!
The only thing that concerns me is the T-X has only one engine, but it does have an ejection seat and jet engines
are VERY reliable.
What ever happened to the Goshawk? Is it already outdated or do we just need something new?
The Navy T-45 Goshawk does not meet the Air Force requirements.
It's a subsonic aircraft with a non-afterburning engine.
It can't hold the sustained high G maneuvers.
The Air Force does not need the extra weight of the carrier landing capability.
It's old, the initial design is from the '70s.
In short it won't prepare Air Force pilots to fly the F-22 and the F-35
Plus the T-X is MUCH sexier!