Leveling the T-X Playing Field

The Air Force “wanted off-the-shelf solutions” to the T-X trainer requirement, but didn’t want to exclude clean-sheet designs, so cost will likely be a key factor in choosing the winning design, said William LaPlante, Air Force acquisition chief, in an interview with Air Force Magazine. “We’re going to put some kind of affordability … requirement [in] for source selection,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing the public cost/capability analyses.” How this will be done, will be discussed with industry well before the draft request for proposals is issued, because “we want to illuminate … what we’re willing to pay for and what we’re not,” added LaPlante. One approach might be “something like what was done on the [Long-Range Strike Bomber].” In that program, the acquisition program unit cost (APUC) is a key performance parameter, he said. “Another way to do it, you could put a scoring decrement … or credit … on costs above or below a certain threshold, … which might combine APUC with development costs. So that’s what we’re constructing now, but certainly cost is going to be a key thing.” (See also Teeing Up the T-X from the June issue of Air Force Magazine.)