Italian manufacturer Leonardo has decided to return to the US Air Force T-X trainer competition with it’s T-100 despite the withdrawal  of U.S partner Raytheon last week.

The company stated that it would leverage it’s U.S company, Leonardo DRS as the prime contractor in the bid for the contract.

“Leonardo’s commitment to pursue the T-X builds on our deep experience in military pilots’ training and on the competitiveness of our T-100 integrated Training Systems that can meet the U.S. Air Force’s current and future needs” said Mauro Moretti, CEO and General Manager of Leonardo.

It is still not clear whether or not the trainer will be assembled in the U.S or not, as Raytheon would have manufactured the M-346 based trainer in Meridian, Mississippi before withdrawing from the competition.

The company’s reentry brings the number of competitors back up to three, with Boeing and SAAB offering the Boeing T-X, and Lockheed Martin and KAI offering the T-50A.

The odds are still however stacked against Leonardo. The Trump administration will be hard pressed to award the contract to a company based primarily outside of the U.S.

Although there has been an emphasis on cost-effectiveness, the performance specifications of the T-X are still high on the priority list for the US. The T-100 still falls short of the U.S Air Force requirement that the aircraft be capable of sustaining a 6.5G turn at 15 000 feet, only being able to sustain 5.3G at the same altitude. With no afterburner, and also lacking supersonic capability, the T-100 remains a wildcard for the contract.

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