High-end trainers: Growththrough T-X?
AEROSPACE AMERICA/APRIL 2013
past 40 years only three models
BAESystems’ Hawk, Alenia’s MB.326, andDassault/Dornier’s Alphajet
have seenmore than 250 sales over their life-spans. However, BAE’s Hawk hasdominated the market for the past few decades (it enjoyed a 35% marketshare by value in 2003-2012 deliveries, with another 19% going to Boeing’sT-45, a carrier adaptation of the Hawk).The recent Alenia/General Dy-namics agreement was particularly im-portant, because the M-346 is the lat-est successful new entrant in thehigh-end trainer market. Not only Italy but also two very prestigious exportcustomers, Singapore and Israel, havepurchased the aircraft. There is alsothe promise of a sale to the UAE, sinceit selected the type several years ago without placing a firm contract.The General Dynamics agreement was also important because NorthropGrumman, which had been proposedas a likely partner for Alenia, had in-stead helped create the first T-X team.In September 2011, BAE Systems andNorthrop Grumman announced apartnership to offer BAE’s Hawk (withL-3 Link Simulation & Training to pro- vide the ground-based training system).Meanwhile, negotiations between Ale-nia and Boeing on a teaming arrange-ment went nowhere. In short, Alenia was in danger of being caught withoutmoney). There also are no signs at allof any growth. If anything, there aretraces of shrinkage, with the early 1990s seeing market peaks of $2.2 bil-lion in deliveries, although numbersare at times inflated by large procure-ment batches for individual countriesand services.However, the T-X program callsfor 350-500 such aircraft, which wouldboost this market considerably. In fact,in the past 10 years (2003-2012), just403 high-end jet trainers were deliv-ered worldwide. Assuming T-X pro-curement lasts over 10 years, the pro-gram should lead to a doubling of themarket for that period.The entire world fleet of high-endtrainers comes to 2,467 aircraft. Thisimplies that, even allowing for a cer-tain degree of shrinkage, and assum-ing an average lifetime of 35 years, an-nual deliveries should be closer to 60aircraft rather than the recent 40.The number of players in this mar-ket is surprisingly high. No fewer than10 aircraft have had some kind of mar-ket share in the past 10 years. In the
the T-X program, an Air Force effortaimed at replacing the service’s agingfleet of Northrop T-38 advanced jettrainers. First, the service held an in-dustry day at Wright Patterson AFB inOhio, signifying its intent to beginstudying aircraft options. Then, Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi announced that it would team with General DynamicsC4 Systems to offer its M-346 jet (des-ignated T-100 for T-X). This removedthe remaining uncertainty about in-dustrial teaming arrangements for theT-X competition.T-X is a key program, not just be-cause it is the only undecided U.S.military fixed-wing aircraft competi-tion currently planned. It is also theonly thing that could rejuvenate andgrow the world jet trainer market, which has been stagnant for decades.
Slow market, many players
Historically, high-end jet trainers havebeen one of the smallest jet markets.Deliveries over the past 20 years haveaveraged just $1 billion a year (in 2013