When the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing the contract for its next-generation training system in 2018, many observers were amazed at the low price. The service had estimated that it would cost nearly $20 billion to develop and produce 351 aircraft plus simulators and ground training aids, but Boeing agreed to do it for less than half that amount.
Air Force acquisition and technology chief Dr. Will Roper attributed the low cost to fierce competition, which certainly played a part in getting offerors to sharpen their pencils. But if you look inside the T-7 program, it is apparent that something more is going on here. Boeing and teammate Saab aren't just developing a training system, they are fashioning what amounts to a prototype for the digital engineering revolution that Roper has made a top Air Force priority.