Boeing and its partner Saab won the USAF’s advanced jet trainer competition with an all-new aircraft, which smashed cost expectations and met performance requirements. The program has set a new benchmark in military procurement — but how did it do it?

Steve Parker is the new program manager for T-X.
A completely new approach to design and manufacturing enabled Boeing and Saab to improve vastly upon previous cost models when it came to T-X.
All photos Boeing

WHEN THE US Air Force first set out its T-X trainer requirement to ultimately replace the T-38 Talon, everyone knew that cost was going to be a major driving force behind a decision. As contractors lined up their offerings, Boeing boldly stated that it would put forward a brand-new, ‘cleansheet’ aircraft. As far back as 2012 it was adamant that the competition could only be won by building a new type that was specifically designed to fit the stringent requirements, and which also won on cost.

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