Boeing has decided to assemble the T-X aircraft for the US Air Force (USAF) at its facility in St Louis, Missouri, if it wins the competition for the air force's T-X advanced pilot training programme.
The move is anticipated to create close to 1,800 jobs in the region.
US senator Claire McCaskill said: “Today’s announcement is further proof that Boeing’s St Louis workforce is among the best and most innovative in the country.
“Boeing’s T-X programme is truly the future of the USAF training and the right choice for training future generations of pilots right here in Missouri.”
The USAF is expected to award the $16bn contract for an initial 350 aircraft and associated ground-based training and support by the end of this year.
The initial operating capability of the T-X training system is expected to be completed in 2024.
The T-X programme seeks to replace the air force's existing fleet of 431 T-38 Talon aircraft.
The T-38 is unable to complete 12 of 18 advanced pilot training tasks, prompting the service to rely on fighter and bomber formal training units to complete exercises at a much greater cost, according to the air force.
The T-38s assigned to the air education and training command (AETC) have also failed to meet the command's requirement for 75% availability since 2011.
According to Boeing, the first two new, purpose-built T-X aircraft 'have proven the design’s low-risk, performance and repeatability in manufacturing.'
Image: Two Boeing T-X aircraft fly over St Louis Gateway arch in Missouri, US. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.