Air Force awards $9B contract to Boeing for new training jets

U.S. Air Force pilots will soon train for combat with T-X jets and simulators from Boeing

LOCAL Boeing wins $9.2 billion training program contract U.S. Air Force pilots will soon train for combat with T-X jets and simulators from Boeing

In today's announcement, the Air Force said the deal covers the purchase of 351 T-X aircraft, 46 simulators and the associated ground equipment to replace its 57-year-old fleet of T-38 Talon training jets. Lockheed, the manufacturer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is the world's largest defense contractor by a wide margin, taking in $50 billion in USA contract dollars previous year compared with Boeing's $23 billion.

On Monday, Boeing was awarded a job valued at as much as $2.38 billion for as many as 84 new helicopters to guard intercontinental ballistic missile sites in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota.

For Boeing's Arlington, Virginia, based defense business, the award caps off a stunning winning streak.

But in the past month Boeing has won a string of major military contracts that should pad its coffers for decades. The defense division accounted for 23 percent of sales a year ago, down from 50 percent in 2010. The Air Force now plans to buy 351 of the Boeing jets, which will replace an aging fleet of T-38C Talons.

Before the Air Force announcement, aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia described T-X as "the last undecided USA military aircraft competition for many years to come".

"Columbus Air Force Base is excited to get a new trainer", Crennan said. It positions Boeing to potentially replace Navy trainers once the service begins to phase out its aging T-45 fleet, said Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners.

The T-38 replacement program has been under development for 15 years now.

Aboulafia estimates that Boeing spent $1.5 billion to create the new T-X design and build the prototypes.

The Air Force at present is planning to buy 351 of the jets and 46 simulators.

The Boeing T-X at its official unveiling in 2016.

Boeing beat out Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Leonardo DRS. Northrop Grumman Corp., Textron Inc., Sierra Nevada Corp. and Raytheon Co. were among the companies that dropped out of the competition.

The Air Force expects the first simulators will arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas in 2023. Boeing and Triumph officials have previously said that orders for hundreds more of the training aircraft could also be placed by foreign military forces.

Columbus Air Force Base will receive new training jets in the near future.

The facility has also done work on a variety of other Boeing aircraft, including the V-22 Osprey.

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