December 16, 2013
Boeing and Saab have signed an agreement to jointly develop and build an all-new aircraft for the U.S. Air Force's T-X trainer competition, aimed at a replacement for the service's 540-plus T-38 trainers. Boeing will be the prime contractor, but both companies will invest in the new aircraft, which will compete with three candidates based on non-U.S. off-the-shelf aircraft: the BAE Systems Hawk, offered by partner Northrop Grumman; the Alenia M-346, with General Dynamics as the prime; and the Korean Aerospace Industries T-50, proposed by development partner Lockheed Martin.
Although Boeing and Saab are giving no details of the design—which in any case is described as flexible, depending on an Air Force requirement that has yet to firm up—it will not be based on Saab's Gripen, beyond incorporating “some Gripen DNA,” an industry source says. This shows that the two companies expect to offer a smaller and cheaper aircraft than the Gripen-sized T-50.