A New Military Jet Flies Just One Year After It Was Designed

The new Boeing and Saab plane took to the sky for the first time on Tuesday, showing defense firms can build complex weapons quickly.

In an era where it takes years — often many years — to bring a warplane from drawing board to flight line, Tuesday’s first flight of a new Boeing-Saab training jet in St. Louis shows that defense firms can, on occasion, build a complex weapon quickly.

In one year, the firms went from certifying the design of its plane to flying it — light speed for the defense industry.

“We don’t do that very often at The Boeing Company,” said Ted Torgerson, the project’s program manager. “I don’t want to say it’s not been done, but for a manned aircraft to go through a complete and production-ready design — that is as fast and as efficient as we’ve ever been through it.”

The new jet took off from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, home of Boeing’s military aircraft division, where the company builds F-15 and F/A-18 fighter jets. During the 55-minute flight, Boeing test pilot Steven Schmidt flew the plane to nearly 11,000 feet. The company plans to fly the jet for the second time “in the next few days,” Torgerson said.

“We haven’t done anything like this in terms for a production aircraft,” Eddy De la Motte, Saab deputy program manager, said when asked about the rapid timeline. “This really proves the ability that we bring to the table here jointly.”

In the three years since the American and Swedish companies signed a deal to work together on Dec. 5, 2013, the duo has created two new aircraft. Some parts were built in Sweden, but assembled in St. Louis. Boeing has not said where it would build the plane if it wins the U.S. Air Force competition to replace the 1960s-era T-38 Talon.

The Boeing-Saab plane is not the only new jet in the Air Force’s T-X contest. Northrop Grumman has built and flown a new plane quickly itself, although company leaders have chosen not to talk about it. Last week, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Turkish Aerospace Industries told Aviation Week that they would offer a bid in the competition. The other jets in the competition are the T-50, built by Lockheed Martin and South Korea’s KAI, and the T-100, made by Raytheon and Italy’s Leonardo. The Air Force is expected to choose a winner in 2017.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.