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T-X Advanced Trainer Replacement

The following is a statement by Northrop Grumman Corporation Feb. 1, 2017: "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 issued on Dec. 30, 2016. 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. Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems remain fully committed to performing on current and future U.S. Air Force programs, to deliver critical capabilities to America’s airmen."

Northrop Grumman announced that it was pursuing an all-new aircraft, with a demonstrator being built by Scaled Composites, which it acquired in 2007. The last time someone won a US trainer program with the help of a prototype from Scaled was the Fairchild Republic T-46A in the early 1980s. During the third quarter of 2007, Northrop Grumman acquired Xinetics Inc., reported in the Space Technology segment, and the remaining 61 percent of Scaled Composites, LLC, reported in the Integrated Systems segment, for an aggregate amount of approximately $100 million in cash.

Northrop Grumman used advanced design and prototyping techniques to build a clean-sheet designed aircraft for the competition. The aircraft combines Northrop Grumman and Scaled Composites innovative approach to aircraft design, development and rapid prototyping. Partnerships with BAE Systems and L-3 position the team as an industry leader in pilot training experience. Combining newly designed aircraft with BAE Systems’ embedded training capability and an L-3 ground based training system, the team created an integrated training solution that responds to the needs and requirements of the US Air Force.

The announcement fit with the plan Northrop's aerospace division had been putting together in recent years. The division reshaped itself into banking on rapid prototyping and creative designs to help it win a series of key competitions.

The USAF wants to buy 350 T—K aircraft to replace the 431 T4385 in Air Education and Training Command [AETC]. Initial operational capability [10C] is slated for the end of 2023, in both the undergraduate pilot and introduction to fighter fundamentals [IFF] training roles.

Scaled Composites, the Northrop subsidiary devoted to rapid prototyping and flight testing, registered the aircraft on 16 June 2015, but the design was kept under wraps for several more months. Northrop Grumman's clean-sheet design was photographed for the first time on 19 August 2016 sporting registration number N400NT. The single-engined jet was seen performing high-speed taxi trials at Mojave Air and Space Port in California ahead of an imminently expected first flight. Details of the twin-seat aircraft had been largely kept secret by the company. A model had previously been briefly shown to reporters, but photographs were not allowed.

The Northrop bid, designated the Model 400, is powered by a single GE Aviation F404-102D engine. The low-winged aircraft looks somewhat similar to the Northrop T-38 Talon that it would replace, with a chine-forward fuselage and single-engine configuration.

Northrop / BAE / L-3

Northrop Grumman had originally planned to offer the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) with its partner, BAE Systems. This option was later abandoned in favor of the clean-sheet design. Besides the Northrop Grumman/BAE Systems team, the US$1 billion T-X requirement is also being competed by Boeing-Saab, Lockheed Martin-Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI), and Raytheon-Leonardo.

On 19 September 2011 BAE Systems, Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced an exclusive strategic partnership to compete in the U.S. Air Force's "T-X" program for the replacement of the aging T-38 trainer with BAE Systems' Hawk Advanced Jet Training System (AJTS). BAE Systems, Inc. will prime this pursuit and Northrop Grumman will serve as the manufacturing partner for the new Hawk aircraft. BAE Systems, Inc. and Northrop Grumman planned to offer the Hawk AJTS, uniquely tailored to meet the needs of the U.S. Air Force, manufactured in the United States, with the involvement of a strong U.S. supply chain.

"Northrop Grumman's extensive background as the original equipment manufacturer of the T-38 Talon coupled with the company's training expertise will make the Hawk AJTS - already a formidable offering - that much more competitive in this procurement," said Larry Prior, Executive Vice President, Service Sectors, BAE Systems, Inc. "We are delighted to have Northrop Grumman as our partner."

"The BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team will apply its expertise and lessons learned from decades of aircrew training and aerospace manufacturing to this project, enabling the U.S. Air Force to succeed in every possible way in their critical missions," said Thomas E. Vice, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Technical Services. He added: "We are in this competition to win."

The Hawk AJTS effectively integrates live and synthetic air and ground based elements to successfully train pilots for 5th generation fighters such as the F-35 Lightning II and the F-22 Raptor. It is the world's only fully-integrated off-the-shelf system in service today, ready now to train U.S. Air Force combat pilots.

More than just an aircraft, the Hawk AJTS teaches student pilots how to address the critical flow of information, learn to interpret it correctly and make the right decisions to maintain operational advantage. This proven, low-cost, low-risk 5th generation training system consists of three critical components to provide cost-effective training to prepare fighter and bomber pilots:

  • A flexible, adaptable Enterprise Learning Architecture (ELA);
  • A Ground Based Training System (GBTS) that delivers the right skills through a blended live/virtual environment; and
  • A proven aircraft that can adapt, evolve and deliver the live element of training to meet end-user requirements by cost-effectively emulating front line platforms with no new maintenance skills.

Over 900 Hawk aircraft had been sold or are on order to date, and the aircraft is currently helping produce highly trained pilots all around the world. The Hawk is the future lead-in trainer for the F-35 for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, the UK, Canada, and Australia. With 18 customers worldwide, the Hawk aircraft has active production lines around the world. USAF Hawks will be built in the United States.

BAE Systems is a global defense and security company with approximately 100,000 employees worldwide. The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and support services. Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

As Lockheed Martin talked up the clean-sheet option, and Air Force requirements were clarified, Northrop Grumman concluded it had little choice but to ditch the Hawk bid in favor of another brand-new design. Company executives said that decision was made after the service requirements became clear.

Responding to questions from Combat Aircraft, Northrop stated: "In 2011 we entered the fight with the Hawk and with an RFP schedule to be on the horizon in early 2012. We stood behind the Hawk as the best solution at the time. As the program moved to the right and the timeline grew, the Air Force requirements began to evolve and we gained greater insight into what capability was really needed for T-X. It became more and more clear to us that the Hawk was no longer the optimum solution in terms of requirements and affordability. We as a team made the decision to no longer offer the Hawk and to incorporate a new air vehicle into our T-X solution.’

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Page last modified: 02-02-2017 19:37:08 ZULU