NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Saab intends to establish a manufacturing and production center in the U.S. to handle the Swedish company’s work on the Boeing-Saab T-X trainer aircraft.

But it’s unclear if that plan will remain in place should the team-up fail to win the U.S. Air Force’s contract. Also unclear is where the facility might end up.


At a speech on the floor of the Air Force Association’s annual conference, Boeing defense chief Leanne Caret and Saab AB president and CEO Haken Buskhe said the goal is for their T-X design to be more than 90 percent built in America.

“Our T-X is designed and purpose-built for the U.S. Air Force training program, for today and for the future. Therefore, the aircraft, including our workshare, should also be manufactured here in the United States,” Buskhe said.

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But many questions remain about this plan, including where the facility might be located or even the nature of its stand-up. Buskhe said his company is looking at three options: building a new facility, working with an existing one, or going out and acquiring a facility.

“I’m not standing here without having done some homework,” he said, adding that “it will be one facility,” while sourcing some parts of the supply chain in the area around the future location.

Both executives declined to say what the workshare is between Boeing and Saab, a long running question.

The T-X program is expected to award a contract this fall, choosing between the Boeing-Saab team, the Lockheed Martin-KAI T-50, and the Leonardo-DRA T-100. However, a program selection may be delayed by the Continuing Resolution funding mechanism that goes into place on Oct 1. 

Caret has previously said Boeing and Saab will continue to market their design outside the U.S. even if they do not win the USAF contract. Caret reaffirmed that plan remains in place.

And while Buskhe said he was a big fan of having one supply chain for an aircraft, neither he nor Caret would comment directly when asked if Saab will build its portion of the workshare in the U.S. under that scenario.

However, a press release put out by Saab said the plan would go forward “should the Boeing and Saab solution be selected.”

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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