Italy-based aerospace company Leonardo reported preparations for a manufacturing operation in Tuskegee, Alabama, are on track to provide the T-100 next-generation jet trainer for the U.S. Air Force.
Guido Sibona, head of industrial engineering for the Leonardo Aircraft Division, outlined a series of project milestones leading up to the beginning of initial production in Tuskegee in 2022, if the Air Force selects the T-100 to replace its fleet of aging T-38 trainers. The Air Force decision is expected in March 2018.
“We have a strong plan to transition production over to the U.S.,” Sibona told the Alabama group.
According to this timeline, construction at the Moton Field site would begin in July 2018, with final completion of the production campus coming in 2021. Hiring for the Alabama manufacturing facility would commence near the start of 2020, with low-rate production of T-100 aircraft beginning there two years later, Sibona said. Full-scale production is expected to begin in 2023.
Leonardo’s Venegono, Italy, Superiore 300,000-square-meter manufacturing complex specializes in the production of military training aircraft, including the M-346, which will serve as the basis for the T-100.
A new trainer, the M-345, is under development there, and the facility hosts a ground-based integrated flight training system laboratory.
“This is really the place for training aircraft in Italy, and I think the most important site for training aircraft in the world,” Francesco Bernardi, Head of Business Development and Strategy for the Leonardo Aircraft Division.