Boeing pitches T-X training jets to Royal Australian Air Force

The Royal Australian Air Force is just one of many potential customers Boeing is talking to ahead of a request for proposal.

On Tuesday, Boeing Co disclosed it is holding talks with potential customers, including the Royal Australian Air Force, on its new T-X training jet which was selected by the U.S. Air Force in September in a $9.2 billion deal.

“We really do see a fit and need for this across fleets all over the world,” said Thom Breckenridge, Boeing Vice President of International Sales, Strike Surveillance & Mobility. “We have been in discussions with several customers about the T-X globally.”

Australia, a major Boeing customer, is among the potential buyers of the T-X as it looks to replace its 33 BAE Systems PLC Hawk trainers within the next 10 to 15 years, said Breckenridge.

He wen ton to add, although Australia had not yet issued a request for proposal, initial discussions on the T-X had been held with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

“We are very eager to understand RAAF’s needs and talk to them about why we see the benefits of T-X,” said Breckenridge.

RAAF did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

In 2016, Australia had released its Defense White Paper, wherein it had listed a future project called the “lead-in fighter training system” with a program time frame of 2022-2033 and having an investment value of $2.86 billion (A$4 billion) to A$5 billion.

In September 2018, Boeing had won the contract beating Lockheed Martin Corp, Sweden’s Saab AB and Italy’s Leonardo SpA for the U.S. Air Force contract, which included an initial contract for 351 jets and 46 simulators.

Although Boeing’s down-to-earth fixed-price contract had surprised many analysts, in October 2018, Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s CEO had said during an earnings call that the T-X was expected to be a program with production and services opportunities for much of this century; the T-X also can be modified to be a light attack fighter in the future, said Muilenburg.

As per Breckenridge, the development of a clean-sheet design with easy access for maintenance had allowed for a “new and disruptive” offering at an attractive price point.

According to the U.S. Air Force, the first T-X jets are likely to go into operation by 2024 and the program is expected to reach its full operational capability in 2034.

($1 = 1.3974 Australian dollars)

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