The Air Force has responded to about 300 questions from industry on the design for the next-generation T-X fighter, an unprecedented level of communication between the Air Force and contractors even before a formal request is submitted, Air Education and Training Command boss Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson said. While the request for proposals for the T-X is expected later this year, AETC has been in constant communication with industry, even while some entrants have already been flying their aircraft. “The bottom line now is we are working with industry in a transparent way that allows us to do things and bring costs down, to get the product everyone wants to build and receive,” Roberson said at AWS16, adding he’s not worried about being able to meet the “very well vetted” requirements of the program. While some entrants are basing their entries on existing aircraft, and others are using new “clean sheet” designs, the Air Force does not have a preference between the two, Roberson said. The Air Force expects to reach initial operating capability on the new trainer by 2024.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.