Category Archives: Trainers

Second Boeing & Saab TX trainer flies

Boeing and partner Saab have completed the first flight of their second TX aircraft, which they hope in the future will replace hundreds of T-38 Talon trainer jet in the US Air Force. 

Boeing and Saab’s TX was designed specifically for the US Air Force advanced pilot training requirement. During the one-hour flight, lead test pilot Steve Schmidt and Boeing test pilot Matt Giese validated key aspects of the aircraft and further demonstrated the low-risk and performance of the design, proving its repeatability in manufacturing. Both pilots trained for the flight using the complete Boeing T-X system, which includes ground-based training and simulation.

“The jet handled exactly like the first aircraft and the simulator, meeting all expectations,” said Giese. “The front and back cockpits work together seamlessly and the handling is superior.”

Boeing and Saab revealed their design in September 2016 and flew the first aircraft last December. Initial operating capability is planned for 2024. Also in the TX competition are Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerspace Industries with their T-50, plus Italian company Leonardo with their T-100.

Aero Vodochody ready for new L-159 production

Czech company Aero Vodochody has produced is first L-159 light attack and trainer jet in 13 years, and is ready for more. The aircraft concerned is a L-159 two seater for the Iraqi Air Force. Aero Vodochody company says it will be turning its focus back on proprietary aircraft and the L-159 could become a flagship of this new approach. And perhaps even a condidate for the O-A competition in the US?

In the next ten years, there will be demand for hundreds of light attack aircraft on the market, Aero Vodochody claims, and the company wants its share.. “We know there is a relevant market and we know we have the right product. L-159 is the only aircraft in its category, that is currently on the market and it is proven in various types of missions. So now it is the right time to start offering L-159 again and giving a new future to this aircraft,” described Giuseppe Giordo, CEO of Aero Vodochody.

Giordo later added that South America is an ‘important region’ for Aero Vodochody’s marketing activities for both the L-159 and L-39NG that is currently being developed. Also, Giordo seems to hint at the O-A competition in the US, which seeks a new light attack jet for the US Air Force.

During the last decade, the Czechs  primarily competed in the international market in upgrading, maintaining, repairing, overhauling of existing aircraft and collaborated with others on several projects.

Those collaborations allowed Aero Vodochody to maintain key capabilities, which the company days was recently was demonstrated in the production of the L-159 for Iraq, plus the installation of a brand new wing production facility.

L-159 aircraft is operated by four customers – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iraqi and US defense firm Draken International. Czech Army has the largest fleet and the aircraft in its service are serving in various missions around Europe and they are also actively participating on NATO exercises. In 2008-2010, Hungary Air Force leased L-159 for pilot training, it was the first deployment of the aircraft by international customer.

In 2014, Aero and Czech Ministry of Defence managed to sell some former Czech jets to Iraq and Draken International.

Leonardo to built T-X offer in Alabama

Leonardo on Thursday announced plans to build a new aircraft manufacturing facility in Alabama to produce its T-100 integrated jet training system if it comes out winning the T-X competition. The company selected Moton Field Municipal Airport in Tuskegee for the new aircraft manufacturing site and final assembly line ‘because of the available local workforce and resources, plus the exisiting airfield infrastructure.

Leonardo earlier this year selected its US-based affiliate Leonardo DRS at the prime contractor for the T-X bid. Production of Leonardo’s T-100 jet trainer will have to take place in the US in order to have a chance at winning the valuable T-X contract. Under this contract, the Pentagon is to buy over 300 new jet trainers for the US Air Force, which will replace many dozens of old T-38 Talon trainers.

The T-100 is based on the M-346 Master, a jet Airheadsfly.com got to know from the inside last year.  The M-346’s twin Honeywell F124 turbofan engines will also power the T-100 and will be built in Phoenix, Arizona.

The T-100 features an embedded training system, fifth-generation cockpit, open system architecture and in-flight refuelling capability and is designed to receive mission-focused next-generation enhancements to meet the requirements set by the U.S. Air Force.

Competitors have until 31 March to actual hand in their proposals. Boeing reported it has already delivered its proposal, while Leonardo now appears to have done the same. No doubt Lockheed Martin will follow with their offer.

Leonardo re-enters T-X competition with T-100

In a surprise move, Italian aircraft manufacturer Leonardo on Wednesday announced it is re-entering the US Air Force T-X competition with its T-100 design. Earlier, Leonardo dropped out together with US partner company Raytheon after being ‘unable to reach a business agreement that is in the best interest of the US Air Force’. Now, the Italians put forward their US company, Leonardo DRS, as the prime contractor.

According to Leonardo, the T-100 will be a US-based program that  brings the US economic benefits through a newly established and skilled US work force, in addition to technological and industrial capabilities embedded in newly built US-based manufacturing facilities.

“Leonardo’s commitment to pursue the T-X builds on our deep experience in military pilots’ training and on the competitiveness of our T-100 integrated Training Systems that can meet the US Air Force’s current and future needs” said Leonardo CEO Mauro Moretti.

Engine

The Italians emphasize the T-100’s use of two US-produced Honeywell F124 turbofan engines in an attempt to show that US companies will benefit if the T-100 takes the prize. The T-X program also sees Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in competion with their T-50, plus Boeing and Saab with a newly designed jet. Both use General Electic;s F-404 turbofan.

Israeli Master

The T-100 is based on the M-346 Master jet trainer that is used by four countries to prepare pilots in next-generation fighter aircraft. Leonardo never forget to point out that the M-346 was selected by the Israeli Air Force as their next training option. The T-100 will feature the same embedded tactical training system used by the M-346. It puts student pilots in realistic but simulated mission scenarios.

Featured image: The Leonardo T-100 will be based on the M-346 Master jet trainer, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

 

Belgium to move jet training to the US

Belgium is looking to move its fast jet pilot training from France to the US, according to a statement by the chief of the Belgian Air Component. Current training takes place on the Alpha Jet in France, but since that country is replacing the Alpha Jet with the Pilatus PC-21, Belgium is looking at other options.

Starting 2019, Belgian future jet pilots will head to ENJJPT (Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training) at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas for advanced training. The move is said to be a temporary measure, since requirements may change as a result of the Belgian quest to replace the current F-16 with 34 new fighter jets. In competition are the Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35.

With France exchanging the Alpha Jet for a new training platform, the days are numbered for the Alpha Jet in Belgian service too. A total of 33 jets have been in service since the late seventies.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Two Belgian Air Component Alpha Jets.  (Image © Dennis Spronk)