General Dynamics and Alenia Aermacchi are offering the T-100 trainer for the US Air Force's T-X trainer replacement program. (Alenia Aermacchi)
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ORLANDO, FLA. — General Dynamics has lined up the US arm of Canadian simulation giant CAE to provide training solutions for its offering for the US Air Force’s next-generation trainer.
CAE USA joins GD and Italian firm Alenia Aermacchi in offering the T-100 trainer for the USAF T-X program. The T-100 is a variant of Alenia’s M-346 trainer, in use around the globe.
Although no formal announcement has been made, CAE’s logo appeared on the Team T-100 booth at this week’s Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, as well as on pamphlets handed out at registration for the conference. A spokesman for the company confirmed the agreement.
The teaming news isn’t a total surprise. CAE has partnered on a number of M-346 agreements in the past, including M-346 simulators and training devices Italy, Israel and Singapore. While CAE USA’s parent firm is Canada’s largest defense contractor, the US arm is based in Tampa, Fla. Companies bidding on T-X have stressed the number of US components and jobs in their offerings.
The winner of the T-X competition will replace the service’s T-38 trainers with 350 new models, making it one of the larger USAF acquisition programs expected in the next decade. But the program is relatively low priority for the service as it faces deep budget cuts and the need to rethink its strategies to focus more on the Pacific.
Air Force officials have said the service wants to issue a request for information in early 2016, with an initial operating capability target date of 2023 or 2024. In December, Gen. Robin Rand, the head of US Air Force Air Education and Training Command, told reporters there are “no plans for T-X” in either 2014 or 2015.
Other competitors include the Hawk Advanced Jet Training System, a joint program of BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Link Simulation & Training and Rolls-Royce; Lockheed Martin’s offering of the Korean Aerospace Industries T-50; and the recently formed partnership of Boeing and Saab, which will offer the only “clean-sheet” design for the program.
Based on the show floor, T-X remains a popular program with industry, with both the T-100 and Hawk systems booths amongst the largest on display Wednesday evening.