The race for the next generation trainer is on and it will be very interesting to watch how the contest develops.
Two main competitors are Lockheed Martin with it’s T-50A and Boeing with it’s Boeing T-X. There is of course Northrop Grumman who wants to stay in the game after decades of successful years of T-38 but it seems that only Boeing and Lockheed will stay in the game.
As a side note – when I look at those aircraft I just cannot push back the feeling that Boeing machine looks a bit like F-18 and Lockheed’s resembles the F-16D.
When it comes to defense matters not only pure specification is important. We always have to look at the bigger picture. Putting all the eggs in one basket is not a good move. Although todays aircraft are generally not build by one company but by a team of companies lead by one main contractor much of USAFs inventory is in the hands of Lockheed Martin and the situation will evolve even further in this direction as more and more F-35 will roll out and there will be fewer F-15 in the line. We have the F-16, F-22, F-35 in the Lockheed camp and the Boeing camp doesn’t have much to offer. If we look at the transport and bomber fleet Boeing looks much better but the fighter realm will soon belong to Lockheed.
Boeing is pushed back a bit with it’s aviation segment, and recently it received a big hit from WTO about financing of civil aircraft. You can look at this case at least from two sides – USA is helping Boeing to compete with Airbus which is bad but… USA I helping to stay in shape one of it’s asset because companies like Boeing are assets in a inventory when you are a global power. When it comes to such situations there are no black / white, good / evil descriptions – we always have many layers.
If I would be a gambler I would put my money on Boeing but as I’m not, it’s time to prepare popcorn, coke and my old faithful ThinkPad and watch how the competition ends. There will be a lot to write about.
Photo: Boeing / Lockheed Martin