U.S. Air Force T-X Competition Narrows As Price Takes Precedence
The Northrop T-38 Talon’s longevity is a testament to late-1950s engineering and the U.S. Air Force’s aircraft depots, but after 56 years of active service, it is time to move on. The service needs a modern trainer to prepare pilots to fly digital-age fighters and bombers, and after seven years of preparation, it is time for the T-X program to deliver. On Dec. 30, a request for proposals seeking a 350-aircraft training enterprise was released, but what looked like a crowded playing field is now quickly evaporating. The focus on high performance at the lowest cost has seen the five or six potential competitors whittled down to two confirmed bidders and two wild cards. So, who has the inside track for this $16.3 billion opportunity?