Raytheon threw its hat in the ring for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer replacement program by announcing a partnership with Italy’s Finmeccanica group to offer a variant of the twin-engine Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master for the requirement. Finmeccanica had previously signed a letter of intent with General Dynamics to offer the variant, designated the T-100.
At a February 22 press conference in Washington, D.C., Raytheon introduced a T-X industry team that includes Finmeccanica, engine manufacturer Honeywell and training system provider CAE. They will likely compete against three other teams. Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin confirmed that it will offer a new variant of the Korea Aerospace Industries’ single-engine T-50 Golden Eagle, which it would build in Greenville, S.C. The partnership of Boeing and Saab and a team led by Northrop Grumman have announced they will offer clean-sheet designs.
Honeywell will supply F124 turbofan engines for the proposal through its International Turbine Engine Company (ITEC) joint venture with Taiwan. CAE will provide a simulation-based training systems for the T-100, which would serve as a lead-in trainer for fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. The M-346 variant would be assembled in the U.S., executives said, though they did not identify a location.
The air forces of Italy, Singapore and Israel operate the M-346. “The T-100 offers dynamic kinetic performance, while also delivering an embedded, tactical training system that immerses pilots in realistic mission scenarios,” said Filippo Bagnato, Finmeccanica Aircraft managing director. “The M-346, the basis for the T-100, is already operational and preparing pilots around the world for the challenges of today’s complex fighter platforms.”
Industry teams expect the USAF will issue a request for proposals later this year for the T-X requirement of 350 training jets to replace the current Northrop T-38 Talon.
“The success of our nation's future pilots depends on a comprehensive trainer to prepare them to take full advantage of the capabilities unique to advanced fourth and fifth generation fighters,” declared Rick Yuse, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems president. “Our affordable, low-risk, open-systems solution combines a proven aircraft with a suite of fully integrated training technologies. Our team is best positioned to…meet the United States Air Force’s mission requirements.”