BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman [NOC] yesterday said they have formed a strategic partnership to compete in the Air Force’s T-X program for the replacement of the aging T-38 trainer with BAE’s Hawk Advanced Jet Training System (AJTS). 

Potential competition on the T-X program is likely to come from the Lockheed Martin LMT]-Korean Aerospace Industries T-50 and the Finmeccanica Alenia Aerospace T-100 Integrated Training System.

BAE will serve as the prime contractor for the work; Northrop Grumman will serve as the manufacturing partner for the new Hawk aircraft.

BAE and Northrop Grumman plan to offer the Hawk AJTS, to be uniquely tailored to meet the needs of the Air Force, made in the United States, with the involvement of a strong U.S. supply chain.

“Northrop Grumman’s extensive background as the original equipment manufacturer of the T-38 Talon coupled with the company’s training expertise will make the Hawk AJTS–already a formidable offering–that much more competitive in this procurement,” said Larry Prior, executive vice president, Service Sectors, BAE. “We are delighted to have Northrop Grumman as our partner.”

Thomas Vice, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Technical Services, said: “The BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team will apply its expertise and lessons learned from decades of aircrew training and aerospace manufacturing to this project, enabling the U.S. Air Force to succeed in every possible way in their critical missions. We are in this competition to win.”

The Hawk AJTS integrates live and synthetic air and ground based elements to train pilots for 5th generation fighters such as the F-35 Lightning II and the F-22 Raptor. It is the world’s only fully-integrated off-the-shelf system in service today, ready now to train U.S. Air Force combat pilots.

The Hawk AJTS teaches student pilots how to address the critical flow of information, learn to interpret it correctly and make the right decisions to maintain operational advantage. This proven, low-cost, low-risk fourth generation training system consists of three critical components to provide cost-effective training to prepare fighter and bomber pilots: A flexible, adaptable Enterprise Learning Architecture (ELA); A Ground Based Training System (GBTS) that delivers the right skills through a blended live/virtual environment; and a proven aircraft that can adapt, evolve and deliver the live element of training to meet end-user requirements by cost-effectively emulating front line platforms with no new maintenance skills.

Over 900 Hawk aircraft have been sold or are on order to date, and the aircraft is currently helping produce highly trained pilots all around the world. The Hawk is the future lead-in trainer for the F-35 for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. With 18 customers worldwide, the Hawk aircraft has active production lines around the world. Hawks for the U.S. Air Force will be built in the United States.