Boeing has been awarded a $9.2 billion contract to build the Air Force's next fleet of combat training aircraft, the Defense Department announced Thursday, locking the aerospace company into the largest US military aircraft procurement in years.
U.S. Air Force pilots will soon train for combat with T-X jets and simulators from Boeing. It positions Boeing to potentially replace Navy trainers once the service begins to phase out its aging T-45 fleet, said Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners.
Under the initial $813 million awarded yesterday, Boeing will deliver five initial aircraft and seven simulators to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, by 2023.
Boeing announced that it has won the contract via a tweet. As the clock ticks down on the fiscal year, Boeing grabbed its third DOD contract in a month.
The T-X is created to bring pilot training into the 21st century, providing an aircraft to train pilots in the pipeline to fly the F-35 Lightning II.
The award from the US Air Force comes after Boeing has had some problems delivering to the Air Force its new in-air refueling jet, which is the KC-46.
Boeing's T-X is a clean-sheet design.
In a statement, Air Force secretary Heather Wilson touted the cost savings achieved through the award, noting that initial estimates had pegged the cost of the program at nearly $20 billion.
An Air Force spokeswoman declined to comment.
Winning the T-X program Boeing and Saab have beaten Lockheed Marting and Leonardo, whose bids were based on existing designs. "Through competition we will save at least $10 billion on the T-X program".
Boeing may go on to claim hundreds of overseas orders for planes and spare parts stretching over decades as the Pentagon program spurs other countries to upgrade their trainer fleets.
Lockheed Martin, the defense giant that builds the F-35, entered the competition with a plane it called the T-50 and which was derived from the F-16 Falcon.
Aboulafia noted that the flight data requirement could have caused the contract award to be delayed, as the Air Force would have had to wait for Boeing's flight data.