The Air Force has asked industry partners competing for the lucrative advanced pilot trainer program to submit their final proposal reviews (FPR), marking another step closer to awarding a T-X contract within the next couple of months.

A source close to the competition confirmed that the FPR had been received by the competitors and was due back to the Air Force Wednesday. The service would not confirm the information, but said in an email that an award announcement is expected by the end of the fiscal year.

A U.S. Air Force T-38 training jet. (Air Force photo)
A U.S. Air Force T-38 training jet. (Air Force photo)

Several industry teams are competing for the contract, which looks to replace the Air Force’s aging T-38 trainers with up to 350 new aircraft and associated training systems to assist pilots looking to fly fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] has partnered with Korean Aerospace Industries to propose a souped-up version of the latter’s T-50 jet, dubbed the T-50A for the competition. Boeing [BA] has teamed up with Sweden’s Saab to present a clean-sheet design, while Leonardo DRS – a U.S.-based subsidiary of Italy-based Leonardo – has offered the T-100, an upgraded version of Leonardo’s M-346.

Analysts have said the contract could be worth up to $16 billion. About $265 million in research, development, test and evaluation funds is authorized for the T-X program in the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.