ABU DHABI — Boeing and Saab’s T-X trainer jet, fresh off of winning the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation trainer competition, could be bought by nations in the Middle East for a variety of different missions, according to a Boeing executive at the International Defense Exhibition in the United Arab Emirates.
“We are seeing quite a bit of interest in the T-X,” said Mark Ballew, director of sales and marketing for International Government Services at Boeing Global Services. “We are getting quite a few inquiries about T-X and when would it be available.”
Ballew declined to comment about which countries were interested in the aircraft--or what type of missions those countries were looking at.
The T-X is a clean-sheet, two-seat trainer aircraft that will replace the U.S. Air Force's aging T-38 Talons. It's a joint program between Boeing and Saab, and beat out competing bids from Lockheed Martin and Leonardo DRS.
And while it’s widely assumed that foreign militaries, particularly those that operate the F-35, could potentially buy the T-X, its been assumed that it would likely be in the trainer role. But in Boeing’s media briefing at IDEX, Ballew indicated that the company sees a much wider market for the jet, in things like aggressor training and even as a lightweight fighter.
“Part of that is talking to customers about what they really need us to go through and do. What do they need the platform to do?” Ballew said in the briefing. “As we’re out flying it, we’ll add more capabilities to it, and we’ll see what those world needs are.”
Before the T-X can hit the international market, it has to finish development and enter production, which its set for the early 2020s.
“There’s a little bit of a wait and see, how’s it going to work," Ballew added. “But we’re convinced that this is going to be a very popular solution and much desired throughout the world, including this region.”
Jeff Martin is the Associate Editor for Multimedia and the host & producer of Defense News Weekly, airing online and on American Forces Network worldwide. In his role as Associate Editor, he reports worldwide on the military and defense industry and leads a market-leading multimedia team.