The service needs to speed up its acquisition program, and do so in a way that will save large amounts of money. To do so, the service is looking to increase its communication with industry, and be more relaxed on requirements for new weapons systems, James said.
The request for proposal, the formal solicitation of offers from contractors that includes requirements for the jet, is expected in about two years, James said. The new Cost Capability Analysis program will be in place then, so the service may not be as strict on just how capable the next trainer will be.
As an example, James talked specifically about the speed of a plane. The Air Force, in a call for proposals, could say that a new jet must be able to fly 500 miles per hour. However, if the Air Force found through the contract selection process that it could save a "significant" amount of money by lowering the required speed to 450 miles per hour, the service could "trade off that little bit of capability" for significant savings.
While the T-X program will be the first to demonstrate this new approach, James identified other upcoming programs that will also go through this effort. The programs are:
-- The long-range standoff weapon, a new weapon to be carried by the next generation bomber.
-- A new targeting pod system.
-- The Space-Based Infrared System, a system of satellites for global monitoring.