WASHINGTON — In a surprise move, the two losing teams for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X trainer competition have decided not to protest the service’s decision to award the competition to the Boeing-Saab team.

Spokesmen from the Lockheed Martin-Korean Aerospace Industries team and the Leonardo DRS group issued statements Thursday confirming they would not protest the contract, which could be worth up to $9.2 billion to produce 351 training jets for the U.S.

Traditionally, large defense contracts are challenged by the losers as a last-ditch effort to find a flaw in the winning bid that could re-open the competition. However, service officials previously stated they felt that repeated interactions with industry throughout the competition, as well as lessons learned from previous programs, would insulate T-X from a big protest.

The Boeing-Saab collaboration is a clean-sheet design to replace the service’s aged T-38 aircraft. Lockheed and KAI were offering the T-50, while Leonardo DRS was offering the T-100, a variant on its M-346 trainer.

Under the initial $813 million award, Boeing is responsible for delivering five T-X aircraft and seven simulators, with the first simulators arriving at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

More In Air