Lockheed's T-50A hits new milestone in race to USAF training contract

Lockheed Martin’s T-50A hits new milestone in race to USAF training contract

The T-50A Aircraft from Lockheed Martin, a trainer plane, has flown its 100th sortie this month at the Greenville, South Carolina facility. A milestone in the pursuit of the T-X contracts from the U.S. government to replace the Air Force fleet of training aircrafts.

“This particular flight in TX-2, included simulated air-to-air engagements, simulated air-to-surface attacks, and instrument proficiency training,” said Elliott “Hemo” Clemence, Lockheed Martin test pilot.

Lockheed Martin announced plans to offer the T-50A in the Advanced Pilot Training (APT) competition in February 2016, unveiling the model in August of that same year. The first flight operation took off in November.

“We’ve met the U.S. Air Force flight test requirements for the proposal, however our flight operations team continues to produce a regular rhythm of sorties to keep the pilots proficient, the aircraft operational and ensure we’re prepared to ramp up operations on day one of a decision,” said Doug Batista, T-50A program director.

The T-50A is built to train the future pilots of the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. It expands on the T-50 family of aircrafts, which has over 150,000 flight hours and counting, across more than 2,000 pilots who trained in this aircraft.

Multiple other companies in the defense industry are pursuing the contract to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon, which has been used over the past 50 years to train pilots. Boeing and Saab, for example, on the co-developed Boeing T-X. In February 2017, Northrop Grumman and BAE announced they were dropping from the competition. The contract is expected to order about 350 total aircrafts.

There is currently no specific time frame for when the contract award will be announced, much is pending on a final budget from congress.