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Lockheed Martin successfully completed the initial flight test of its T-50A configured aircraft. The T-50A is the company’s aircraft offering in the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training competition.
“The aircraft in its new configuration with the 5th Gen cockpit and other upgrades performed flawlessly,” said Mark Ward, Lockheed Martin T-50A lead test pilot, after his flight in Sacheon, South Korea. “I have no doubt this aircraft will close the gap which currently exists between the trainer fleet and 5th Generation fighters.”
Boeing and Saab have managed to keep the design for the Air Force’s T-X trainer competition under wraps, but there are signs the two companies may be nearing a milestone for the program.
On Monday, aviation enthusiasts in Sweden noticed the arrival of an Il-76, operated by Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC, near the city of Norrköping, where a large piece of cargo was loaded onto the plane. From there, the large cargo plane took off for Reykjavik, Iceland — and then took an overnight flight to St. Louis, Missouri.
So what was the cargo loaded at Norrköping? Local radio station P4 Östergötland claim that the cargo aboard the plane is related to the T-X program, notable given the final destination for the cargo; St. Louis is home to Boeing’s fighter production line and is widely expected to be where any T-X work gets done for the company. That report set off a frenzy for enthusiasts in the region — and led to local media arriving to snap pictures.
The US Air Force is considering expanding the scope of its T-X trainer requirement to include the role of an aggressor aircraft or potentially as a replacement for its Fairchild Dornier A-10 Warthogs.
Although the service is yet to issue a formal request for proposals on T-X, USAF officials have expressed interest in using the aircraft to fulfill the close air support mission of the A-10 replacement, also known as AT-X, said Dan Darnell, vice-president of strategic initiatives at Raytheon, speaking at the show on Tuesday.