Some choices are easy. The U.S. Air Force is now evaluating the Leonardo T-100 equipped with Honeywell’s F124 engines to replace its existing fleet of T-38 trainers, most of which were produced in the 1960s. The T-100 is the low-cost, low-risk solution for the Air Force.
The T-100 has a lot going for it including a design concept that’s been proven on the Leonardo M-346. The M-346 is currently being used to train pilots in Israel, Italy, Poland and Singapore to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The F124 engine also powers the M-346 and the F124/F125 family of engines has accumulated more than 1 million operating hours on various aircraft. We’ve delivered more than 550 copies of the engines so far, many from our Engines Center of Excellence in Phoenix where the engines for the T-100 will be built.
A production engine and a production airframe, both built in the U.S., should give the Air Force a boost of confidence in the T-100 as the best choice for the T-X trainer program.
Now let’s talk performance. The F124 has the highest thrust-to-weight ratio in its class, delivering up to 6,280 pounds of thrust, which meets or exceeds even the most challenging mission requirements of the light fighter envelope. In fact, two F124 engines give the T-100 the power it needs to emulate flight characteristics of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, providing a better training experience for the next-generation of Air Force pilots.
Unlike the engines on the T-38, the F124 engine is impervious to ice and sand ingestion and highly resistant to stalls and surges, making it very forgiving and the perfect engine for novice pilots. All without a fuel-guzzling afterburner that increases both operating and maintenance costs. Meanwhile the two-engine design of the T-100 provides an extra margin of safety.
All this – and much more – adds up to the low-cost, low-risk training solution that the Air Force needs to build tomorrow’s airmen.