The Leonardo DRS T-100 trainer lost in the battle to build new Air Force training jets. Photo courtesy of Raytheon

Boeing emerges as winner in Wright-Patt-managed jet trainer contest

Boeing has emerged the winner in the $9.2 billion contest to build new U.S. Air Force training planes.

Boeing will work with Sweden’s Saab AB to develop a new plane for the competition, beating Lockheed Martin Corp and Leonardo DRS, according to Reuters news service, which was the first to report the news Thursday.

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The Air Force plans to buy 351 of the jets and 46 simulators. More purchase options could push that number as high as 475 jets and 120 simulators.

The Air Force expects the first jets to be delivered in 2023 with the program to reach full operation in 2034.

The jet trainer program is managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. About 75 people worked on the program in 2017.

“There are many, many folks in industry very, very interested in winning this award,” Kevin Buckley, program executive officer for mobility programs at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, told the Dayton Daily News in late 2016.

Boeing is presenting the win as a boon for American jobs. The company said Thursday it will begin placing orders with its suppliers, including Saab. “More than 90 percent of Boeing’s offering will be made in America, supporting more than 17,000 jobs in 34 states,” the company said. 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that losers in the contract competition will likely appeal the contract decision, given how apparently low the Boeing bid is. The $9.2 billion contract award is lower than the ceiling of $16.3 billion placed on the program by the Air Force, the newspaper noted.

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