A private unveiling of a “slightly” outdated Northrop Grumman’s T-X advanced trainer model reveals an unmistakeable likeness with the T-38 Talon and a strategic focus on cost control to win the hotly-contested US Air Force competition.
Northrop plans to publicly unveil and fly an internally funded prototype of the company’s T-X trainer concept early next year. Offering a sneak-peek to journalists on 10 December, Tom Vice, president of Northrop’s Aerospace Systems sector, appeared visibly conflicted over whether he should give away key features of the concept up to the last concept.
In the end, he decided to lift the veil on the model, but not allow pictures. The aircraft unveiled early next year at Northrop’s flight test base in Mojave, California, will include small changes, he adds.
“When you’re in Mojave and see the final design you’ll see a slightly different airplane,” Vice says, “but this will give you a good indication of where we’re heading.”
The model revealed a low-winged trainer with cheek-mounted fan inlets, an area-ruled fuselage, a structural chine running backward from the nose and a conventional single tail. Comparisons to the existing T-38 design were unavoidable, a fact acknowledged by Kevin Mickey, vice-president of advanced design at Northrop.