Boeing wins $9.2 billion contract for new Air Force training jet

Air Force turns to Boeing for $9.2 billion training aircraft contract

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a contract worth up to $9.2 billion for a new fleet of T-X training jets that it originally thought would cost twice as much.

The Air Force will purchase up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators under the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, although initial plans are to buy 351 T-X aircraft, 46 simulators and ground equipment, Defense News reported Thursday.

According to CNN, Boeing secured a contract to produce the new T-X aircrafts to replace its current T-38 jets for pilot training.

With hopes to win the lucrative project, KAI had formed a consortium with the US' Lockheed Martin to replace 350 units of the aging T-38 jets.

Landing big defense contracts had been hard for Boeing, but Leanne Caret, the chief executive of Boeing's Defense, Space & Security since February 2016, has helped the company win more contracts. Earlier last week, the Air Force awarded a Boeing-Leonardo team the contract to build a replacement for the UH-1N Huey helicopter, edging out Sierra Nevada Corp. The service expects the program to reach full operation in 2034.

But in the past month Boeing has won a string of major military contracts that should pad its coffers for decades.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Air Force military deputy for acquisition, noted that "industry knew exactly what we were going to evaluate".

Two prototypes of the T-X were produced by Boeing and Saab, with Saab building components for the aft fuselage and other systems.

Winning the T-X program Boeing and Saab have beaten Lockheed Marting and Leonardo, whose bids were based on existing designs.

Before the Air Force announcement, aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia described T-X as "the last undecided United States military aircraft competition for many years to come".

"It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centred on the unique requirements of the US Air Force".

In a statement, Air Force secretary Heather Wilson touted the cost savings achieved through the award, noting that initial estimates had pegged the cost of the program at nearly $20 billion.

Boeing teamed with Saab to create a new airplane design for the competition.

Boeing and Saab will perform the majority of the work at facilities in St. Louis, Missouri.

Lockheed Martin, the defense giant that builds the F-35, entered the competition with a plane it called the T-50 and which was derived from the F-16 Falcon.

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