03/18/2015 by Defence IQ Press
Following months of speculation about future capabilities of the U.S. Air Force’s T-X trainer jet platform, the requirements for one of the Pentagon’s most important and valuable acquisition programmes have finally been released.
The Air Force Materiel Command, the procurement agency for the T-X, has not committed to a single or twin engine design but has specified a requirement that, “Takeoff and IFR [Instrument Flight Rules] climb out performance in the event of single engine failure for a two engine aircraft on a no wind day at a density altitude of 7400 ft.” The requirement is for a climb gradient of 200 feet per nautical mile. Defence IQ reported last June that Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command (AETC), confirmed the requirements proposal will “not express a preference for a single-engine aircraft versus a twin.”
The T-X, a long-term replacement for the ageing T-38 trainer, must have a minimum threshold requirement of 6.5 Gs for sustained G but the development objective is to get this to 7.5 Gs under standard configuration, 80% fuel weight, and 15,000 ft Pressure Altitude (PA), and no greater than 0.9Mach.
In terms of aircraft sustainment, operational availability is to be greater than or equal to 80% at 20,000 fleet hours and material availability at ≥ 76% at 20,000 fleet hours.
Questions about the T-X requirements have been circulating ever since it was included in the President’s FY16 budget, with analysts particularly looking at the possibility of using it as an aggressor training system as well as using it for its core purpose of advanced pilot training. Since it’s expected to be in service for decades, the platform needs to be flexible enough to allow for upgrades in the future, which may include the aggressor training element.
Lockheed Martin’s advanced development facility, known as Skunk Works, revealed earlier this month that it had been working on a brand new platform for the T-X programme, which may be fast-tracked depending on the final requirements. The company currently plans to offer a version of it T- 50 trainer.
Also in the running, Boeing and Saab AB joined forces last year to develop and build a “clean sheet” platform for the T-X Family of Systems training solution. Boeing are the prime contractor and Saab AB primary partner.
Textron Air Land is proposing its Scorpion light attack and ISR aircraft while the team of General Dynamics and Alenia Aermacchi have joined forces to offer an advanced trainer system, dubbed the T-100, based on Alenia's M346 platform. Northrop Grumman recently announced it was moving away from using the BAE Systems Hawk platform for its bid to replace the T-38 and will instead offer a new design.
In February, Defence IQ reported that the requirements would be released “within weeks,” according to Gen. Rand, speaking at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium.
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