By Lara Seligman, Associated Press via Military.com
March 30, 2017 -- If Leonardo wins the coveted U.S. Air Force contract for the next-generation T-X trainer, the T-100 would be built at a new facility at Tuskegee’s Moton Field in Alabama.
Leonardo would build the advanced assembly site from the ground up rather than using an existing facility, creating hundreds of new construction and manufacturing jobs.
At Moton Field, the workforce would perform structural subassembly, integration, final assembly and conduct research and testing on the T-100, which is based on the Alenia Aermacchi—now Leonardo—M346 trainer.
The project would create 750 high-wage, full-time jobs over 10 years starting in 2019, according to a March 30 press release from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. Total investment in buildings, infrastructure and equipment would exceed $200-250 million.
“Building the T-100 aircraft in Alabama will create American jobs while providing the Air Force with the world’s best trainer,” said Leonardo DRS CEO William J. Lynn, prime contractor for the T-100 team. “Future American military pilots can learn on the world’s most operationally proven, low-cost, low-risk integrated training system developed by a skilled U.S. workforce.”
Leonardo’s North American arm, Leonardo DRS, is the new U.S. face of the T-100 bid after Raytheon dropped out earlier this year. Leonardo announced that U.S.-based DRS would take the helm as prime in February.
Raytheon had picked Meridian, Mississippi as the location of its T-100 final assembly and checkout facility prior to the divorce with Leonardo.
With Leonardo DRS as prime, the T-100 bid will come in at a lower price, Lynn told Aviation Week in a recent interview. Consolidating the integrator and airframe manufacturer under one roof streamlines the proposal’s management structure, Lynn said. Meanwhile, a smaller company means fewer layers of bureaucracy and less overhead, he said.
“I think that with DRS as the prime, we will have a leaner cost and overhead structure than a bigger company might have,” Lynn said. “I think this bid will be more cost-competitive as a consequence of the team and the structure that we’re bidding it under.”