T-X competition narrows as Northrop Grumman backs out

The offerings in the US Air Force’s T-X program are getting rather thin now that Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems have withdrawn their T-X model from the competition. Northrop Grumman announced the decision in a statement today. The move follows last week’s similar decision by Leonardo and Raytheon to withdraw the T-100.

According to the statement, ‘Northrop Grumman and its principal teammate BAE Systems have carefully examined the U.S. Air Force’s T-X Trainer requirements and acquisition strategy as stated in the final request for proposals. The companies have decided not to submit a proposal for the T-X Trainer program, as it would not be in the best interest of the companies and their shareholders.’

The announcement was expected for quite a few days already, as Northrop Grumman earlier hinted at not entering the competition.

This leaves on Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in competion with their T-50, plus Boeing and Saab with a newly designed jet. A decision on the winner is to be announced some time in the next few years.

The T-X program is aimed at replacing many dozens of ageing US Air Force T-38 Talon trainer aircraft. Northrop Grumman’s T-X model was first sighted at Mojave airport in California in August 2016. It performed its first flight on 24 August 2016.