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.)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.