Boeing T-X Headed Toward First Flight
Only a few more major tests remain before the plane makes its inaugural flight, said program manager Ted Torgerson during a Nov. 23 interview ahead of the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC).
“We are clicking off all of our test points, we have tested around somewhere around nearly 1,200 test points on the jet on ground tests,” he said.
The next test involves putting the plane, engine running, through the motions of a flight — takeoff, climb and landing — with the aircraft tied down to the runway, Torgerson said. The company will also check how the airplane responds to simulated system failures. After that, a Boeing-Saab board will clear the aircraft for flight, and the Federal Aviation Administration will certify it. Finally, the company will conduct low-, medium- and high-speed taxi tests before flying the jet.
“We’re looking to fly soon, before the year is over” Tom Conard, the company’s T-X capture team leader, reiterated during a Tuesday briefing at I/ITSEC. “And as we’re preparing that jet to fly, our flight crews are training in the training system devices to prepare them exactly what they’re going to see in the jet.”
The Boeing-Saab team is competing against one other clean-sheet design, manufactured by Northrop Grumman. Two other teams are banking on less risky existing designs. Lockheed Martin has partnered with KAI to offer the T-50A, a version of the Korean company’s T-50 trainer. Raytheon joined with Leonardo and CAE on the T-100, which uses Alenia Aermacchi M-346 as the basis.
If all goes according to schedule, the Boeing-Saab plane will fly around the same time as the US Air Force issues its final request for proposals, which officials have targeted for a December release. The service has already put forward several draft request for proposals, which detail threshold requirements as well as objective requirements that could knock hundreds of millions of dollars off a company’s total evaluated price.
“We’re going to meet all the requirements and growth provisions for the future,” Conard said. “It has no radar, it has no weapons, it is not doing anything except advanced fast jet training.”
Asked whether Boeing plans to incorporate such features for potential opportunities currently under discussion by the Air Force — such as an exercise of light-attack aircraft that could inform a program of record, or a proposal to hire industry to play the aggressor role in training exercises — Conard demurred.
“We’ll look at that after we win T-X,” he said. “We’ve got to win T-X, and then from there we will able to adapt and work in future variants. And I’ll leave it at that.”
What we know about Boeing T-X
Boeing’s clean-sheet T-X trainer is designed to fly like a fighter, with a twin tail configuration similar to the F-35 and F-22 to give the aircraft optimal handling at all speeds. The Boeing T-X uses a single GE F404 afterburning turbofan, the same engine found on the F/A-18, giving the trainer the high G and high angle-of-attack capabilities required to mimic flight in modern fighters.
The aircraft uses some technologies found in the F/A-18 Super Hornet, developed by Boeing, as well as Saab’s Gripen multirole fighter. Boeing has already manufactured one T-X that will fly for the first time before the year is out, and a second aircraft is also near completion, which will begin structural proof tests in the next few days.
Tiered, stadium-style seating provides maximum visibility in the cockpit for instructors and students to practice air traffic maneuvers and combat training. An advanced avionics system and large display screen are included to prepare pilots for the high-tech systems found in fifth-generation fighters like the F-35. The computer systems in the cockpit, as well as ground-based simulators, provide a number of training modules for students and tools for instructors in what Boeing is calling their “classroom in the sky.”
When it comes to trainer aircraft, it is crucial that maintenance operations are as pain-free as possible, so a high wing design was used to provide easy access to the panels on the Boeing T-X. Optimized for Air Force ground equipment, the T-X uses fewer fasteners for the panels and parts from established suppliers to streamline the maintenance needs of the trainer. Source popularmechanics.com
General Electric F404
General Electric F404 (built under license by Samsung Techwin) afterburning turbofan
- Type: Afterburning turbofan
- Length: 154 in (3,912 mm)
- Diameter: 35 in (889 mm)
- Dry weight: 2,282 lb (1,036 kg)
- Compressor: Axial compressor with 3 fan and 7 compressor stages
- Bypass ratio: 0.34:1
- Turbine: 1 low-pressure and 1 high-pressure stage
- 11,000 lbf (48.9 kN) military thrust
- 17,700 lbf (78.7 kN) with afterburner
- Overall pressure ratio: 26:1
- Specific fuel consumption:
- Military thrust: 0.81 lb/(lbf·h) (82.6 kg/(kN·h))
- Full afterburner: 1.74 lb/(lbf·h) (177.5 kg/(kN·h))
- Thrust-to-weight ratio: 7.8:1 (76.0 N/kg)
Technical data 456fis.org