Boeing Needed International Help to Build New Training Jet

U.S. Air Force training planes made with a lot of Swedish help, delivered by Russia. If this isn’t a signal America has lost its edge, we probably don’t want to know what else might be around the corner.


Boeing partnered with Swedish company Saab to design their candidate for the Air Force's next advanced trainer aircraft.

Boeing partnered with Swedish company Saab to design their candidate for the Air Force’s next advanced trainer aircraft.

A decade of layoffs forced the US giant to seek engineering and manufacturing talent from partner Saab.

It seemed so all-American: a U.S. aviation giant unveiling its newest military jet to flashing lights and thumping heavy-metal music. But the sleek twin-tailed T-X — Boeing’s candidate to become the U.S. Air Force’s next pilot trainer — couldn’t have made it to the dolled-up St. Louis hangar without a good deal of international help.

For all its deep aviation heritage, the Chicago company needed a partner on the T-X bid. A decade of engineering layoffs had left the venerable American firm without the workers needed to add the trainer competition to its existing workload, particularly with the Air Force requiring demonstration aircraft with a relatively quick turnaround. It also needed a way to do it more cheaply than past endeavors.

So the maker of the F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 Super Hornet teamed up with Saab — builder of the Gripen 4.5-generation fighter jet — to develop a T-X candidate. And less than three years after the two firms announced their partnership, they have now unveiled their first two aircraft, which are expected to fly by year’s end. That’s pretty fast for an American defense firm.

While officials from neither company would say just what parts of the plane were developed in Europe, Saab is believed to be manufacturing large portions of it. In June, a large Russian cargo plane believed to be carrying sections of the new aircraft flew from Sweden to the U.S.

Boeing officials say they are not playing down Saab’s role. Boeing spokeswoman Deborah VanNierop noted that Saab President and CEO Håkan Buskhe participated in the rollout ceremony and that other company officials were also on hand.

“Saab is not in a backseat role,” VanNierop said. “This is very much a partnership.”

Full article: Boeing Needed International Help to Build New Training Jet (Defense One)

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