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Raytheon teams up with Finmeccanica to offer new jet trainers to USAF

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Two T-100s in formation flight. A Raytheon photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): Raytheon has announced its partnership with Italy's Finmeccanica in its bid for the US Air Force's T-X jet trainer programme.

Under the programme, the USAF is set to acquire new trainer aircraft to replace its aging fleet of T-38 trainers.

Raytheon, together with Finmeccanica, CAE USA and Honeywell Aerospace, will offer the T-100 -- an advanced variant of the Aermacchi M-346, with a leading-edge Ground Based Training System.

"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, managing director of Finmeccanica Aircraft Division.

"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," he said.

While CAE will provide simulation-based training systems, Honeywell Aerospace will provide twin, F124 turbofan engines to power the T-100 via the International Turbine Engine Company (ITEC) joint venture.

Finmeccanica will be the supplier of the Aermacchi M-346 trainer jet which will be the basic platform for the T-100.

The USAF could need as many as 350 next-generation jet trainers under the T-X programme, having an estimated value of US$ 8 billion, to replace the Northrop-built T-38s which are in use since 1959 to train rookie pilots.

Other contenders for the programme include Boeing-SAAB team offering a newly designed aircraft; Northrop Grumman-BAE Systems team with a new aircraft; and Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries offering the T-50 jet trainer.

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