Six Planes Industry Wants DoD (and Other Militaries) to Buy

In a time of constrained budgets, new military aircraft programs are rare. But that hasn’t stopped defense industry design teams from coming up with new ideas for military aircraft. Below are six aircraft models that were on display this week at the annual Air Force Association convention in National Harbor, Md.

Some of the planes are candidates for the Air Force’s T-X program, an effort to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainer (It’s the plane student pilots fly before getting in the cockpit of a fighter jet.) The Air Force has been unable to find money in its budget for the T-X program, despite it being a top priority for service brass.

  • Name: Hawk
  • Type: Jet Trainer
  • Who Makes It: BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman
  • What it Would Replace: T-38 Talon
  • Status: In production internationally. T-X not funded by Air Force.

  • Name: T-100
  • Type: Jet Trainer
  • Who Makes It: Alenia Aermacchi and General Dynamics
  • What it Would Replace: T-38 Talon
  • Status: In development for the Italian, Israeli and Singapore air forces. T-X not funded by Air Force.

  • Name: MC-27J
  • Type: Gunship
  • Who Makes It: Alenia Aermacchi
  • What it Would Replace: Could augment Air Force Special Operations Command gunships.
  • Status: The Air Force canceled the C-27J joint cargo aircraft program last year. It’s having a hard time divesting the aircraft, but has been pitching a gunship version for several years. US Special Operations Command remains interested.

  • Name: UH-72 Lakota
  • Type: Utility Helicopter
  • Who Makes It: American Eurocopter (EADS)
  • What it Would Replace: UH-1 Huey missile field security and VIP transport helicopters
  • Status: In production for the US Army. EADS is also pitching the aircraft for the Army’s Armed Aerial Scout. EADS has said the chopper would be a good fit to replace the Air Force’s old Huey fleet. Only problem, the Combat Support Helicopter (formerly the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform, or CVLSP) program fell below the funding line before sequestration so it’s not likely to return anytime soon.

  • Name: A400M Atlas
  • Type: Airlifter
  • Who Makes It: Airbus Military (EADS)
  • What it Would Replace: Not sure. Airbus officials say the US Air Force could use it to deliver oversize equipment, such as Stryker vehicle, to austere landing strips.
  • Status: In development for several European militaries. If the US Air Force bought this cargo hauler it would only be used for niche missions. Doesn’t seem likely considering it scrapped its C-27Js so it didn’t have to deal with a small, niche fleet.

  • Name: Scorpion
  • Type: Light Attack, Jet Trainer
  • Who Makes It: Textron and AirLand
  • What it Would Replace: Unclear. Possibly the A-10 or maybe the T-38.
  • Status: In development. Textron and AirLand just unveiled this clean-sheet design at the AFA conference this week. AirLand has been working on this project for several years, according to sources.
Marcus Weisgerber
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Marcus Weisgerber

Senior Pentagon Correspondent at Defense News
I write about broad-ranging policy, acquisition and budget issues affecting the US military.
Marcus Weisgerber
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