In addition to its agreement with Korean Aerospace to offer the T-50 trainer in the Air Force’s upcoming T-X competition, Lockheed Martin also has a new design in hand, said Rob Weis, executive VP and general manager of the company’s Skunkworks advanced projects division, at a Lockheed Martin media event in Arlington, Va. Wednesday. Weis said Skunkworks has been working on a T-X “since 2010,” and will offer it instead of the T-50 if the Air Force’s T-X requirements—due out to industry within weeks—match the new design better. The T-50 is the default offering if USAF’s broad requirements—a low-risk, low overall cost design that could be quickly delivered based on an existing, off-the-shelf aircraft—don’t change much, Weis said. Skunkworks is not just involved in aircraft design but has also been working on embedded simulation, a modernized cockpit, and other aspects of the training system it thinks the Air Force will want, he noted. He suggested either aircraft will feature a flat-panel cockpit display like that in the F-35, the better to help pilots transition to fifth generation aircraft. The company has not yet decided where in the US it would build the T-X—either version—if it wins the contest, he said.
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.