Boeing says T-X program would be based in St. Louis


ST. LOUIS – A major defense contract from the Air Force could have major benefits for the city of St. Louis.

This week, Boeing announced that if awarded the contract for the Air Force’s T-C training jets, it would assemble them at its St. Louis facility.

The U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training competition, known as the T-X Trainer, carries a price tag of $16 billion.

And the number of jobs it would effect is a major factor: it’s expected to support approximately 1,800 jobs in the region. It would be the newest project brought into the community, and St. Louis has a history of producing some of the most acclaimed military aircraft within the past century.

“The Boeing T-X trainer will keep Americans safe and create more jobs for Missourians,” Gov. Eric Greitens said. “Companies like Boeing, which are committed to growing and investing here, show the world that our state is open for business and ready to create new jobs.”

The jobs projection includes direct and indirect positions expected to be supported by the T-X work.

“I’m proud that Boeing has trust in the highly skilled workforce in my district, and I look forward to the economic opportunity these jobs will bring for our community and the Missouri supply chain,” U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay said.

“Our highly skilled St. Louis workforce designed, assembled and brought Boeing T-X to life, and they continue to define the future, not just for our company, but for our customers and the global aerospace industry,” Shelley Lavender, St. Louis senior executive and president of Boeing Military Aircraft, said.

The Air Force is looking to replace their aging fleet of trainers, consisting of Northrop Grumman’s T-38 Talons, which have been in service since the early 1960’s. Experts say they don’t expect the T-38’s to last past 2030.

The Air Force plans to purchase 350 jet trainers, which would be used to teach new pilots to fly fighters like the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-22 Raptor, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and they want those planes ready by 2024.

Several companies are seeking the contract, but just three teams are left vying for the contract: Lockheed Martin, partnered with Korea Aerospace Industries; Boeing, partnered with Saab; and Italian contractor Leonardo, partnered with its own U.S. subsidiary DRS Technologies.

The contract is expected to be awarded at the end of this year.