Boeing Defense on December 20 conducted the first flight of the new single-engine jet it is developing with Saab for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X training jet competition. The first of two planned prototypes flew for 55 minutes from the manufacturer’s flight-test facility near St Louis, Missouri.
During a conference call with reporters following the flight, lead pilot Steven Schmidt said he flew the jet as high as 11,000 feet and reached a speed of 231 knots during the flight. Dan Draeger, Boeing chief pilot for Air Force programs, sat aft of Schmidt in the instructor’s position. They performed handling quality and speed checks with the landing gear stowed and deployed.
Both pilots prepared for the flight using the complete training system, which includes ground-based training and simulation aids, the manufacturer said.
Boeing rolled out the jet during a ceremony at St. Louis on September 13. Powered by a GE Aviation F404-GE-402 afterburning turbofan, it features twin canted tails and a stepped tandem cockpit for student and instructor pilots. The second prototype cycled out of the paint shop on December 20 and is scheduled to begin taxi and flight tests in the first quarter next year, said Boeing T-X program manager Ted Torgerson. He declined to specify the planned flight-test hours the two prototypes will fly.
At least three other teams plan to compete for the 350-aircraft T-X program to replace the current Northrop T-38 Talon the USAF’s Air Education and Training Command uses for undergraduate pilot training. The industry teams expect the service will release a final request for proposals by December 30 at the latest.
The Boeing first flight followed other recent developments involving T-X contenders. On December 12, Raytheon inaugurated the site where it hopes to assemble the T-100 variant of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master for the Air Force, at Meridian Regional Airport in Meridian, Miss. On November 19, Lockheed Martin started flight tests of the T-50A trainer it is offering with Korea Aerospace Industries from a facility at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center in Greenville, S.C., where that jet would be assembled.
The new single-engine jet that Northrop Grumman’s Scaled Composites subsidiary is building was photographed performing taxi tests at Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, Calif., on August 19 and made its first flight several days later, according to published reports. Registered as N400NT, the jet is powered by a GE F404-GE-102D engine.