The recent exit of Raytheon/Leonardo and Northrop Grumman/BAE Systems from the T-X competition isn’t cause for alarm or a re-think of the program, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Before the request for proposals was released in late December, the “dialogue” between industry and the Air Force was exhaustive, Goldfein said, and “it’s not surprising to me” that as the companies gained more insight into what the Air Force wanted and what competitors were offering, “some of them were able to make informed business decisions … not to jump into this race.” Goldfein said the “longer dialogue up front” led to a more informed and “better-written RFP.” He said the Air Force now has “two competitors that have a very good sense of what we’re looking for. I’d be concerned right now if I had one competitor.” If that were the case, he’d probably order “a look at our process.” Instead, “We’ve got a competition, and it’s a really informed competition.” As a result of the dialogue, which involved “1,300 different individual recommendations from industry that we worked our way through,” Goldfein asserted, “I think we’re in a pretty good place.” The teams of Boeing/Saab and Lockheed Martin/Korean Aerospace Industries have each said they are still in the T-X contest, while several other companies have said they may compete, as well. Responses to the RFP are expected in March.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.