T-X training jet could be assembled in St. Louis, if Boeing gets the contract | St. Louis Public Radio

T-X training jet could be assembled in St. Louis, if Boeing gets the contract

May 15, 2017

Boeing officials announced Monday the company’s decision to assemble the T-X training jet in St. Louis, meaning approximately 1,800 direct and in-direct jobs for the region.

But those jobs depend on whether the U.S. Air Force gives Boeing and Saab the contract later this year. Lockheed Martin and the Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50A and the Italian company Leonardo along with its U.S. subsidiary DRS are also competing for the aircraft, which will replace the T-38.

Elected officials, including Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, pledged support to help Boeing win the bid.

“I want you to know that my team is going to work with you side-by-side every step of the way, so that we can win this contract so that Boeing can building the T-X right here in St. Louis, Missouri,” Greitens told a crowd at the announcement.

After the event, the governor told reporters his administration will make the case to the secretary of defense and the Trump administration about the importance of building the jet in St. Louis. (Greitens said he was also working to ensure the business recruiting arm of the state, the Missouri Partnership, would get funding after being eliminated from the state’s budget by lawmakers.)

Sen. Claire McCaskill said she has confidence in Boeing’s T-X because of its history of producing capable aircraft on-time and on-budget, such as the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The Democrat said she expects the Air Force will take into account that the T-50A is being heavily subsidized by the South Korean government.

“That’s why I’m hopeful that a full and fair competition will take into account that the competitor is getting some subsidization from a foreign country, that will bring this aircraft here to St. Louis,” McCaskill said, “because the men and women of Boeing deserve it and America’s military deserves it.”

The Air Force plans to buy 350 aircraft. The contract’s estimated worth is $16 billion and likely would mean production into the 2030s.

“Our highly skilled St. Louis workforce designed, assembled and brought Boeing T-X to life, and the continue to define the future, not just for our company, but for our customers and the global aerospace industry,” said Shelly Lavender, St. Louis senior executive and president of Boeing Military Aircraft.

Boeing unveiled two T-X aircraft with its partner Saab last September. Test flights of both aircraft took place in December and again last month.

The Air Force is expected to make a decision later this year.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman