T-X potential contenders fly
On 20 December Boeing and partner Saab made the first flight of their jointly-developed T-X, which is a contender for the US Air Force’s future training requirements, replacing ageing Northrop T-38 Talons. Two days later Textron Airland LLC flew the first production-conforming Scorpion, which, with one rather than its current two engines, and with other modifications, is a potential contender for the T-X contract.
During the Boeing T-X’S 55-minute flight, lead test pilot Steven Schmidt said that it “met all expectations. It’s well designed and offers superior handling characteristics. The cockpit is intuitive, spacious and adjustable, so everything is within easy reach. It was a smooth flight and a successful test mission.” Chief pilot for Air Force Programs Dan Draeger, who was in the ‘stadium seating’ rear cockpit, added, “I had a great all-around view throughout the flight from the instructor’s seat, which is critical during training.” The second T-X is currently undergoing ground testing and is expected to fly in the early part of this year.
The production-conforming Scorpion flew for one hour 42 minutes from Mcconnell Air Force Base in Wichita. This latest version incorporates a number of improvements based on customer feedback, as well as results from the prototype’s 800+ hours in both test and ‘real-world’ operational flying. In addition to newly- selected Garmin G3000 integrated flight deck avionics, changes to the production Scorpion’s airframe include four degrees of wing sweep, redesigned horizontal stabiliser for improved high-speed performance, simplified landing gear, a nextgeneration head-up display (HUD), and hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls.
Top: Boeing’s T-X in flight Above: Textron’s Scorpion taking off