Leonardo DRS rejoins U.S. Air Force T-X trainer jet competition

ARLINGTON, Va. Leonardo DRS -- the U.S. arm of the Italian aerospace company Leonardo -- has announced that it will participate in the U.S. Air Force T-X competition with its T-100 integrated training system. The competition is soliciting contractors to design and build a successor to replace the aging T-38 Talon, first produced by Northrop in 1959.

Leonardo DRS will enter its T-100 integrated training jet into the competition; the T-100 is already operational to train pilots around the world to fly in next-generation fighter aircraft and features an embedded tactical training system to immerse pilots in realistic mission scenarios.

Leonardo had originally teamed with Raytheon on the T-X pursuit, but announced at the end of January that the two companies would be dissolving the partnership.

The Air Force says that the contracts for as many as 350 new trainer jets --expected to be awarded sometime in 2017 -- could potentially reach $16 billion.