M-346 Master

General Dynamics has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Alenia Aermacchi to jointly compete for the US Air Force’s (USAF) T-X trainer programme.

As part of agreement, the companies will propose a fully integrated advanced pilot training (APT) family of systems (FoS) based on Alenia’s T-100 aircraft, which is a market version of its M-346 Master trainer aircraft.

Serving as the prime contractor, General Dynamics C4 Systems (GDC4S) will leverage its extensive expertise in systems integration and sub-contract management to offer APT FoS comprising aircraft, flight simulation devices, multimedia classrooms and logistical support services to the air force.

General Dynamics Information Systems and Technology executive vice president Jerry DeMuro said the T-100 training system will ensure the USAF’s next generation fighter pilots are fully prepared to safeguard the country and its allies, irrespective of the mission.

"Leveraging aircraft and systems that are already proven internationally saves significant development time and cost for the air force and includes an unprecedented level of safety for the trainees as they train and fly,” DeMuro added.

"GDC4S will leverage its extensive expertise in systems integration and sub-contract management."

Capable of comprehensive distributed mission operations (DMO), the T-100 is an advanced trainer designed to provide cost effective training to USAF pilots in flying fifth generation fighters, such as the Lockheed Martin-built F-22 Raptor and F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft.

The T-X programme aims to replace the ageing Northrop T-38C Talon fleet for fast-jet training purposes with a new two-seat jet trainer.

Other contenders include BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team, which is proposing the Hawk advanced jet training system (AJTS) and the T-50 Golden Eagle by the Lockheed Martin / Korea Aerospace Industries team.

Image: The T-100 integrated training system is built around Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 Master trainer aircraft.