Raytheon, which had teamed with Leonardo to pitch the T-100 for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer requirement, has withdrawn from the competition to provide 350 aircraft to replace the T-38 Talon.
In a joint press release on January 25, the two companies announced they had left the process. ‘While we remain confident that the T-100 is a strong solution, our companies were unable to reach a business agreement that is in the best interest of the US Air Force’, said Raytheon spokesman B. J. Boling. ‘Consequently, Raytheon and Leonardo will not jointly pursue the T-X competition.’
The announcement came shortly before Raytheon releases its 2016 financial results and fourth-quarter statement.
Raytheon was the prime contractor in the bid, the US company offering a US version of the Leonardo (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) M-346 Master, which has sold to Israel, Italy, Poland and Singapore.
Last October Raytheon and Leonardo announced plans to build the T-100 in Meridian, Mississippi, if the type won the $16.3-billion competition. Raytheon would have establishes a final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility at a site it had chosen in Meridian.
The Raytheon and Leonardo team was announced in February 2016, after a previous venture between Leonardo and General Dynamics was terminated.
Raytheon and Leonardo were also partnered with CAE USA and Honeywell Aerospace in offering the T-100 to the USAF. However, there had previously been concern about the final terms of the agreement between Raytheon and Leonardo relating to manufacturing workshare.
It is unclear whether Leonardo plans to bid for the T-X contract on its own, but at this late stage it seems unlikely the European contractor could continue without a US partner. After a final request for proposals for T-X was released by the USAF on December 30, 2016, a final selection is expected to be made late this year.
The latest development leaves Boeing/Saab, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada/Turkish Aerospace Industries in the running for the T-X requirement. Of these, only Lockheed Martin is offering a aircraft based on existing design — the T-50A derived from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50. The other three offers are all based on ‘clean sheet’ designs. There remains a chance that Textron could enter the bidding with a development of its Scorpion light attack aircraft