Lockheed Martin’s entry in the competition to field the Air Force’s T-X trainer flew for the first time Thursday. The T-50A “performed flawlessly,” Mark Ward, Lockheed’s lead test pilot for the program, said after the initial flight test in Sacheon, South Korea, according to a June 2 release. Lockheed spokesman Rob Fuller told Air Force Magazine flight tests will be ongoing and a second test aircraft is expected to fly in July. The T-50A is a modified version of the the T-50 trainer Lockheed helped Korean Aerospace Industries design for the Republic of Korea Air Force. The reconfigured prototype is outfitted with a fifth-generation cockpit and boom-type refueling receptacle. Lockheed has argued its experience with the F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation fighters and ability to reuse hardware and software will make the T-50A the best choice to replace the the T-38 Talon. The formal request for proposals for the T-X is expected later this year, and the service likely won’t pick a winner until 2017 or later, but Lockheed is already standing up the T-50A final assembly and checkout facility in Greenville, S.C., according to the release. The Air Force expects the trainer to reach initial operating capability by 2024.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.