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Advanced Tactical Trainer (ATT)

The Air Force is seeking “at least 100” and as many as 400 Advanced Tactical Trainer aircraft to fly aggressor missions as part of the Reforge initiative, a major overhaul of Air Force training. AETC is working closely with ACC on Project REFORGE, as well as a number of initiatives designed to modernize undergraduate flying and pipeline training. The Air Force faces distinct challenges that have intensified over time. The combination of declining experience levels, a growing number of flying upgrades and an elevated operational tempo combined to create a significant challenge at the squadron level. Institutionally, the Air Force’s pilot shortage and challenges with production have made it more difficult to replenish front line units and maintain a healthy flow of pilots between operational units, training units and important institutional test and staff programs.

The USAF could add a sixth squadron of combat-coded F-22A Raptor stealth fighters by ‘re-purposing’ training-coded aircraft. Speaking in a 22 June 2020 teleconference from ACC HQ at Langley AFB, Gen James M Holmes, the outgoing commander of Air Combat Command (ACC) identified this as a potential benefit from Project Reforge. This program executed in coordination with the Air Education and Training Command would reduce the time and resources required to produce experienced fighter pilots.

USAF General Mike Holmes (Commander, Air Combat Command) reported that the T-7A’s modern capabilities offer a generational chance, not just to replace the sixty-year-old T-38 fleet, but also to revamp an eighty-year-old pilot-training system that produces too few pilots and emphasizes on the wrong skills. Holmes unveiled an ACC-led plan in 2019 to reshape the pipeline for fighter and bomber pilots. His “Project Reforge” proposes to eliminate Fighter Training Wings (FTW) and their Flight Training Squadrons (FTS) and mix advanced jet trainers like the T-7A within Tactical Fighter Wings.

The United States Air Force, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC/WLQ), in support of the Air Combat Command (ACC), on 12 October 2021 released a Request for Information conducting market research to identify, as potential sources, companies that may possess the expertise, capabilities, and experience to competently and competitively respond to requirements for the design, development, test, production, integration, installation, and sustainment of an Advanced Tactical Trainer (ATT) to be used and integrated as a key tool for Future Fighter Pilot Training.

  • Fighter type aircraft with two seats plus an option for single seat variant providing alternate options for use of rear cockpit space.
  • b. Desired level aircraft speed of at least .9 Indicated Mach Number (IMN) / 450-500 knots indicated airspeed at 10,000 feet (mean sea level) with aircraft structural limit min 1.2 IMN.
  • c. Desired service ceiling of at least 45,000 feet mean sea level.
  • d. Desired structural limits of at least 7.5 G with a sustained capability of 6 G at 10,000 ft MSL
  • e. Desired fuel / range / endurance for an Average Sortie Duration (ASD) of at least 90 minutes to include 30 minutes of tactical maneuvering.
    1. Profile 1: Basic Fighter Maneuvers (BFM) mission profile (T/O – 100 mile transit @ 20k, 2 x 180º G-awareness turns, 4 x BFM sets of 720º AB turns, climbs from 5k to 15k ft between sets, RTB 100 NM with the Visual Flight Rule (VFR) fuel reserves.
    2. Profile 2: Air-to-air mission profile (T/O – 150 mile transit @ 26k, 2 x 180º G awareness turns, 30 min actical maneuvering at 0.9 IMN and altitudes 15-35k ft, RTB 150 NM w/ VFR fuel reserves).
    3. Profile 3: Air-to-Ground mission profile (T/O – 100 mile transit @ 26k, 2 x 180º Gawareness turns, 30 min tactical maneuvering at 450 Knots Indicated Airspeed (KIAS) and altitudes 500’-25k ft, RTB 100 NM w/ VFR fuel reserves).
  • f. Secure, open architecture large area displays with an additional input port to enable the capability to display additional inputs (separate from and parallel to the aircraft Operational Flight Program [OFP]), to replicate frontline aircraft displays and enable simulated displays of aircraft combat systems, simulated inputs and real or simulated weapons. The programmable and portable capability will be separate from aircraft OFP, the Government desires access to a non-proprietary interface to replicate and adjust frontline aircraft displays of offensive and defensive combat systems, and weapons performance parameters.
  • g. A universal stick and throttle connection to enable reconfiguration of the flight controls to mimic Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) of frontline USAF Mission Design Series (MDS) fighter aircraft. The Government desires access to a non-proprietary interface to replicate and adjust programmable HOTAS buttons to replicate the Mission Design Series (MDS) functions and aircraft displays.
  • h. Secure transmissions and reception for radio communications, navigation, and training data links via SATURN, Tactical Combat Training System, 2nd Generation pod (TCTS II) + RedNet / MIDS.
    1. Secure embedded, programmable, flight cockpit, digital simulation and training capability
    2. Required communication/navigation systems: color moving map, 2 x UHF/VHF capable radios, Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B) in/out, VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range/Tactical Air Navigation (VOR/TCN), Air Navigation (RNAV) 1 & 2 and be Required Navigation Performance (RNP) .3, 1, & 2 capable.
    3. Secure actual or simulation capabilities to provide Identification compatible with AF MDS.
  • Aircraft is structured/capable/configurable to carry:
    1. Combat Air Training Missile (CATM) and a TCTS II or an Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation pod (ACMI).
    2. A single wing station, on each wing, is able to carry an external fuel tank or an Electronic Attack (EA) or Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) pod while providing power and ability to control pod from the cockpit

The Government is also interested in the feasibility, estimated cost, and schedule for additional capabilities to be considered as potential options for future Fighter Training:

  • a. Low Cost Helmet-Mounted Display that displays relevant flight information. Display configurable to mirror frontline MDS.
  • b. Aircraft generators sufficient to power wing stations, antennas and avionics stations with sufficient growth capacity to support follow-on incorporation of Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM), Infra-Red (IR) sensor, and radar or threat emulator capabilities.
  • c. Automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS).
  • d. Autopilot with altitude and heading hold, option to auto-sequence to steer points
  • e. Precision Landing Mode capability.
  • f. An ejection seat capability for zero altitude, zero airspeed (Zero-Zero Ejection seat)
  • g. Aircraft capable of rolling over Barrier Arresting Kit (BAK-12) field arresting gear during takeoff and landing roll.
  • h. Digital Engineering analysis for cost of option to provide rear cockpit plus pre-configured shell to add portable avionics or fuel and/or engineering analysis and cost to remove rear crew station and replace with permanent additional fuel/avionics bay volume.
  • i. Digital Engineering analysis for cost of option for a universal engine bay design to enable form/fit/function to use engines from multiple vendors.
  • j. Digital Engineering analysis for cost of option for an Air-to-Air Refuel capability from a boom receptacle.
  • k. Digital Engineering analysis for cost of option for Infrared Search and Track (IRST) or datalink cued Infra-red sensor– Internal (for development of future Adversary Variant)
  • l. Digital Engineering analysis for cost of option for radar or data-link cued threat emulator
  • m. Digital Engineering analysis for cost of option for additional space available for avionic systems and antennas to provide training Electronic Attack (for development of future Adversary Variant)
  • n. Smart Chair: An advanced smart chair of the aircraft cockpit and HOTAS, to provide a virtual reality (VR) for ground based practice of all flying capabilities with artificial intelligence (AI) provided capability for assessment and demo capability; for use within all Squadron secure or unsecure facilities/space. An advanced VR smart chair with capability to upload previous flight performance information to review and identify points for rehearsal or assessment.

The purpose of this request for information is to determine the feasibility, estimated costs, and schedule to develop an advanced tactical training aircraft. This aircraft would support three training tasks: 1) provide Initial Tactical Training, 2) provide Adversary Air support, and 3) serve as a tactical fighter surrogate of existing and future United States Air Force (USAF) frontline fighters. The aircraft needs to simulate and/or replicate current and future fighter aircraft systems by providing the training environment and relevant experience to build transferable tactical skills, systems management skills, and decision making skills required for weapon system employment actions. These actions will be influenced by: environmental information, avionic displays, sensor data, weapon cueing, and maneuver elements.

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