The Air Force has selected the Boeing/Saab team’s clean-sheet entry as the winner of the four-year T-X competition, winning a contract worth up to $9.2 billion over the next 15 years, the service announced Thursday. With the demise of the JSTARS Recap program, the T-X is expected to be the last big new USAF airplane program for at least the next seven years. The deal has an upper limit of 475 aircraft, but this is “an artifact” of the way the contract had to be calculated, service acquisition chief Will Roper told reporters at the Pentagon. The actual number is 351 aircraft … at some price point below the $9.2 billion upper limit. The program as awarded will “save at least $10 billion” versus service estimates, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement. Boeing convinced the Air Force it could perform at the far lower-than-expected cost despite its problems and delays on the fixed-price KC-46 program, on which it has already absorbed $3.5 billion in losses. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
USAF B-52s twice this week flew missions near the South China Sea, as tensions remain high in the area because of the increasing Chinese military presence in the region. On Sept. 23, a B-52H deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, from Barksdale AFB, La., flew a “routine training mission” in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, according to Pacific Air Forces. On Sept. 25, another B-52H flew from Andersen to the South China Sea and returned to Guam. Both of the bombers are assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed to Andersen for the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence mission. B-52s deployed to Guam have routinely flown these missions to stress the freedom to maneuver in international airspace in the region, though the missions regularly cause frustration in China. For more on the mission, see Bombers Watching Over the Pacific from this month’s issue of Air Force Magazine. —Brian Everstine
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