First flight of Boeing-SAAB-built all-new T-X trainer aircraft. A Boeing photo
ST. LOUIS (BNS): An advanced jet trainer jointly built by Boeing and SAAB for the US Air Force's T-X programme has undergone its first flight test on December 20.
During the 55-minute flight, the single-engine aircraft "met all expectations", Boeing said.
The brand new aircraft, having twin tails, stadium seating and an advanced cockpit with embedded training system offers state-of-the-art ground-based training and a maintenance-friendly design for long-term supportability, was unveiled in September 2016.
The second prototype is currently in ground testing and expected to fly in early 2017, Boeing said.
The US Air Force is looking to acquire around 350 next-generation jet trainers under the T-X programme to replace the Northrop-built T-38s which are in service since 1959.
An RFP for the programme is likely to be issued shortly followed by final contract award in 2017-18.
Initial operating capability for the new trainers is planned for 2024.
The other contenders in the T-X programme include Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries-built T-50A trainer aircraft; Northrop Grumman-BAE Systems team offering a newly-designed aircraft; and Raytheon-Leonardo Finmeccanica team offering the T-100 jet which is an advanced variant of the Aermacchi M-346 aircraft.