Leonardo Will Solo the T-X

Leonardo announced Wednesday that it will pursue the T-X contract on its own, just a few weeks after Raytheon and Leonardo disbanded their teaming arrangement to compete for the Air Force’s $13.6 billion T-X advanced trainer program. The Italian company said in a press release it is “proud to confirm its participation” in the T-X competition, again offering the T-100 aircraft, derived from its M-346 Master trainer. Leonardo DRS, a US company, will serve as the prime. The T-100 is powered by two Honeywell Aerospace F124 turbofans, and a main partner will be CAE USA, which will design the T-100 ground-based training system. The M-346 was initially designed with input from the Russian firm Yakovlev, although that partnership with Leonardo’s predecessor company, Alenia Finmeccanica, was dissolved in 2000. The M-346 first flew in 2004 and serves as a trainer in the air forces of Israel, Italy, Poland and Singapore. Leonardo teamed with Raytheon a year ago, in February 2016, to compete for T-X, but the relationship ended in February, reportedly over a dispute between the companies over the price they would quote. The T-X Request for Proposals was released December 30, and equated price with all other aspects of performance and the ground-based training system. Leonardo (As Alenia Finmeccanica) had previously teamed with General Dynamics on T-X, but that partnership was dissolved in 2015 when GD announced that it had realigned its businesses and would no longer pursue the trainer contract. On Wednesday, Leonardo DRS CEO Bill Lynn said the T-100 is a “highly competitive” offering of a “mature, readily available and technologically advanced solution that will also have a significant economic impact in the US.” Northrop Grumman withdrew from the T-X competition last week. Responses to the T-X RFP are expected in March.