Boeing is making its pitch to provide the U.S. Air Force with a new single-engine, twin-tailed jet for flight training purposes. The plane, called the T-X Advanced Trainer Aircraft, was revealed Tuesday.
Dubstep music played while flashing lights illuminated a drop cloth unveiling of the aircraft model. Then company executives had one more surprise: two of the actual jets.
“Our T-X design features: twin tails, a modern design that allows better maneuverability than a single tailed aircraft, stadium seating that provides rear visibility to the instructor … and a maintenance friendly design,” Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said at the event in St. Louis, according to Defense News. “Just as impressive is what you can’t see. What you can’t see is the advanced design and manufacturing that went into this.”
Boeing partnered with Swedish firm Saab to make the trainer, which is powered by a single GE 404 engine made by General Electric. The aircraft has a glass cockpit and open software to communicate across the trainer’s systems and with the ground, according to a release from Boeing. The plane comes with a non-required perk, as well: the potential to accommodate two hardpoints where external or internal loads can be placed. Trainees will also be able to practice refueling in the air if the Air Force chooses to do so.
The two planes shown at the St. Louis event haven’t flown yet but one is expected to fly by the end of the year. The first one is currently undergoing ground tests while the other is set to begin structural proof tests soon to evaluate its strength and integrity.
The company also mentioned that there were several new methods they were using to cut costs on the plane. That includes the use of 3-D printed polymer parts and assembling the plane without tools.
“I don’t want to give away all of the competitive secrets here,” he said. “But we’re going to shatter that cost curve.”
The total contract offered by the Air Force is worth $11 billion, according to Popular Mechanics. Defense manufactuerer Lockheed Martin is also competing for the contract.