The United States Air Force will look to Red Oak to help provide future pilots the tools needed to succeed on their next mission.
It was announced on Thursday that the contract for the new air force training aircraft was awarded to Boeing and Saab. In turn, the Triumph Group in Red Oak was granted the opportunity to manufacture components for the aircraft.
Red Oak City Manager Todd Fuller stated the city is proud to be given the opportunity to meet the future needs of the Air Force and the next generations of pilots.
“If everything goes according to plan it is going to be a windfall for us in terms of employment increases," Fuller said. "Obviously with 650 to 900 direct and indirect jobs coming into the north Texas area some of those may not go to Triumph. From what we understand is that the majority of those jobs are coming into Red Oak. So we are excited.”
Boeing announced last year that, if selected, Triumph would serve as the primary supplier for the T-X training aircraft — producing the winged vertical tail and the horizontal structures, with opportunities for additional work. The T-X is set to replace the Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon that first entered service in 1961. Northrop Grumman reports that about 1,200 were produced and 500 are currently operational with the Air Force and NASA. More than 72,000 Air Force pilots have trained in the aircraft.
Boeing also stated the contract could generate 950 direct and indirect jobs with the initial operating capability planned for 2024.
According to the Triumph Group website, the facility in Red Oak specializes in the manufacturing and assembly of sizeable major composite and metal integrated airframe systems for military and commercial aircraft programs. Some of its key products include empennages, wing design and manufacturing, cabin and fuselage assemblies, nacelles, and thrust reversers.
The 1.1-million-square foot facility sits on 123 acres at 300 Austin Boulevard in Red Oak.
Fuller stated it is too early to understand if the company is going to do a facility expansion and it has not been announced what component they will be manufacturing in Red Oak. He anticipates Triumph making a formal announcement within the next 10-15 days.
“Whatever component that they are going to be manufacturing here, it is going to give us a lot of pride to be able to say we are helping with a new training jet that is going to help our new pilots come in,” Fuller said. “I think that it is great.”
According to Boeing, the $9.2 billion contract funds the construction of 351 jets, 46 simulators, and associated ground equipment.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of years of unwavering focus by Boeing and the Saab team,” Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Space and Security, stated in a release. “It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centered on the unique requirements of the U.S. Air Force. We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century."
Boeing is now clear to begin placing orders with its suppliers, including Saab. More than 90 percent of Boeing’s offering will be made in America, supporting more than 17,000 jobs in 34 states.
In a statement released by the Triumph Group, the company stated it employees look forward to working with both Boeing and Saab on the project.
“Congratulations to Boeing on winning the T-X advanced pilot training program,” Triumph spokesperson Michele Long wrote. “We’re excited to be a significant supplier for this important team that will help the U.S. Air Force train future pilots for many generations.”
For more information about the T-X training aircraft program updates can be found on the Boeing website at www.boeing.com/defense/t-x.