"Raytheon is leading this effort because our pilots deserve a comprehensive training solution that provides the foundation for their combat readiness," said Rick Yuse, president of Raytheon's space and airborne systems. "They must be prepared to take full advantage of the advanced capabilities of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. Our integrated T-100 training solution will do just that."
If selected, the T-100 will be built, tested and fielded in the United States, Yuse stressed. Raytheon has not yet chosen a facility for the project, but is considering every option, including building a new site from scratch, said Roy Azevedo, company vice president of secured sensor solutions for space and airborne systems.
The winner of the T-X competition will provide the Air Force with 350 new aircraft to replace the aging T-38 fleet that currently trains the service's pilots. But T-X is not just about a new airframe, Raytheon officials emphasized during the briefing. A crucial piece of the future training system will be the ground-based training a pilot receives before actually sitting in the cockpit, they said.
"The airplane is just the beginning," Azevedo said. "We are going to be offering a solution that goes from the classroom to the simulators to the aircraft; that includes live virtual construction to train the pilots and provide a comprehensive system that allows these pilots to get their wings and become combat ready."
The T-100 Ground Based Training System is designed to mimic 5th generation fighters. It uses the same operational flight program software as the actual aircraft, enabling training with the same aircraft feel even before a student takes flight.
Photo Credit: Raytheon
Another advantage is that the T-100 offering is low-risk and affordable because the aircraft is already operational, Raytheon and Finmeccanica officials stressed during the briefing. The M-346, the basis for the T-100, is currently training pilots around the world with the Israeli, Italian, Polish and Singapore air forces.
"This partnership aims to provide the US Air Force with the most advanced, effective and affordable solution for the next-generation military pilot training requirement," said Filippo Bagnato, managing director of Finmeccanica Aircraft Division.
In joining the Finmeccanica and CAE team, Raytheon is replacing General Dynamics in the role of prime contractor. GD dropped off the program in March; since then, Finmeccanica and CAE have been without a prime for the offering.
Raytheon is entering a crowded field. In addition to the T-100 team, competitors include a pair of clean-sheet designs being put forth by a Boeing/Saab team and a Northrop Grumman-led coalition that includes BAE Systems and L-3; the Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries T-50A; and a design from Textron AirLand, which may be loosely based on its Scorpion jet.
Nabbing T-X will provide the winning company not only a contract for 350 aircraft, but also an inside track to any number of international customers who buy the F-35 around the globe. T-X, along with its advanced ground-based training system, is crucial to the Air Force's plan to train a new generation of pilots to transition from legacy fighter jets to the F-35 in future decades.
Industry expects the Air Force to release a request for proposals for T-X later this year, with a contract award in 2017. Initial operating capability is expected in 2024.
Raytheon states its T-100 will provide the US Air Force with state-of-the-art technology at the low acquisition and life-cycle costs.
Photo Credit: Raytheon