By Trevor Nash, Shepardmedia.com
June 20, 2017 -- One of three contenders for the USAF’s Advanced Pilot Training (APT) T-X programme, the Leonardo T-100 will be ‘an aircraft made in the US with lots of US content’, according to Filippo Bagnato, MD of Leonardo’s Aircraft Division.
Bagnato’s comment were made during a press conference at Le Bourget that brought together senior executives from the T-100 team that includes Leonardo, DRS, CAE and Honeywell.
The T-100, a derivative of the M-346, was originally bid by Raytheon prior to that company’s withdrawal last year due to differences with Leonardo over ‘business arrangements’. Shephard understands that these differences centred on workshare between the two companies and, specifically, US content.
Leonardo is now pushing the US content with assembly and some fabrication work earmarked for a new facility to be located at Tuskegee, Alabama if the company’s APT T-X bid is successful. According to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, the Tuskegee manufacturing site will employ ‘750 high-wage, full-time’ workers.
Alongside partners Honeywell – providers of the F-124 - and CAE, ground based training system supplier, Leonardo is keen to scotch the ‘foreign airframe’ tag.
Bagnato told reporters that Tuskegee would provide additional jobs and not use personnel employed ‘at St Louis for example’ - a reference to the Boeing T-X proposal.
William Lynn, CEO of Leonardo North America and Leonardo DRS, said that the T-100 was ‘an operationally proven aircraft that is now training pilots for fifth-generation aircraft’ and that the bid represented ‘the least risk’ at a lower cost than the competitors. Lynn’s comments referred to the M-346 in Italy, Israel, Singapore and Poland.
As well as Boeing and its partner Saab, Lockheed Martin is bidding the T-50, an aircraft developed with KAI.
The next milestone in the APT T-X programme sees the three teams submitting technical flight data at the end of this month. In theory, the winner will be announced later this year but stand by for the protest that is sure to follow.