Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) have submitted a final proposal for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer competition, The Korea Times reported.
In February 2016, Lockheed Martin announced its plans to offer the T-50A jet trainer for the competition and build the aircraft at a final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility in Greenville. The FACO and operations center were formally opened in August 2016.
T-50A is based on FA-50, the light attack version of KAI T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic advanced jet trainer developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) along with Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is equipped with fifth generation cockpit, an aerial refueling receptacle, cockpit multi-function display, dorsal hump for extra internal fuel, and an embedded training suite.
T-X program has been established to enable the U.S. Air Force to buy a new two-seat jet trainer for fast-jet training to replace its Northrop T-38 Talon trainers. The average age of the T-38 fleet is over 50 years.
The T-X program requirements were released by the Air Force on March 20, 2015, and a a formal request for proposal (RFP) was issued on Dec. 30, 2016.The RFP includes 350 aircraft and initial operational capability (IOC) by 2024. Further purchases could push the total number of aircraft in USAF service to over 1,000.
Several competitors are expected to submit existing aircraft and others are considering all new designs. The following have been submitted as bids: Leonardo S.p.A. with the M-346-based T-100, Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin with the T-50 Golden Eagle, Boeing and Saab Group new, purpose-built Boeing T-X, and Sierra Nevada Corp and Turkish Aerospace Industries with a new design.
The Air Force expects to award a contract for the new aircraft later this year, with the first aircraft expected to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph as early as 2022.
KAI and Lockheed Martin are also currently pursuing a joint marketing program for the T-50 internationally.