Italy’s Leonardo will assemble T-100 training jets in Tuskegee, Alabama, if it wins the U.S. Air Force’s T-X advanced pilot training competition, the company announced on March 30.
In a joint release with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R), Leonardo said it will assemble the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 variant at Moton Field outside of Tuskegee, home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Leonardo would lease a new facility built by a public-private partnership; the total investment in buildings, infrastructure and equipment would exceed $200 million. Plans call for creating 750 jobs over 10 years.
Leonardo was earlier partnered with Raytheon for the T-X competition, with plans to assemble T-100s in Meridian, Mississippi. In January, the companies said they were unable to consummate the business relationship; weeks later Leonardo said it will continue to compete in partnership with its U.S. subsidiary, DRS Technologies.
The Air Force plans to award a contract this year for the program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase and production of 350 new jets and ground-based training systems, an estimated $16.3 billion acquisition.
Among other contenders, Lockheed Martin started flight testing two production-representative T-50A variants from a facility in Greenville, South Carolina, last summer. Boeing rolled out its new-build BTX jet from its St. Louis manufacturing facility in September.