Boeing, Northrop T-X Sneak Peeks

Boeing on Monday invited journalists to a Sept. 13 unveiling of its T-X trainer candidate for the Air Force, offering a short, dim, black-and-white video showing the jet from the front. If the aircraft shown is indeed Boeing’s “clean sheet” T-X, it is a high-wing airplane with a slight anhedral in its tail surfaces and two squared-off side inlets. The video did not reveal if the aircraft has one or two vertical tails, but suggests a GPS antenna ahead of the windscreen, implying that the required aerial refueling receptacle is behind the two-seat cockpit. Boeing is partnered with Saab of Sweden on the T-X, and has previously refuted suggestions that its airplane is based on Saab’s Gripen fighter. The aircraft shown is reminiscent of BAE’s Hawk trainer; ironically, the aircraft on which Northrop Grumman was to base its T-X offer, but which it abandoned after initial requirements documents suggested it wouldn’t be competitive. Coincidentally, over the weekend, footage of Northrop Grumman’s clean-sheet T-X undergoing taxi tests at Scaled Composite’s Mojave, Calif., facility surfaced on the internet. Scaled, owned by Northrop, built the prototype. The jet was described as resembling the company’s T-38—the aircraft the T-X will replace—but with a beefier vertical tail, a single engine and shallow chines along the front of the airplane. Northrop officials have allowed that the jet is powered by the General Electric F404. A company spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine that Northrop knew the aircraft would eventually be seen at Mojave, but isn’t making any formal disclosures about the jet yet. “We’ll have more … in the months to come,” she said. Northrop and Boeing are the only competitors offering “clean sheet” aircraft for T-X. Lockheed Martin has already unveiled a modified version of the Korean Aerospace T-50 Golden Eagle as its T-X offering, while Raytheon is pitching the T-100, a tailored version of the Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) M346 Master