$9B T-100 project not coming to Alabama as Leonardo loses contract bid

Leonardo, an aerospace and defense company, hopes to build its T-100 trainer for the U.S. Air Force at Tuskegee's Moton Field. (Leonardo)

Earlier this year, global aerospace company Leonardo selected Moton Field, where the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen trained before being deployed to Italy in World War II, as the manufacturing site for its T-100 advanced trainer jet should the U.S. Air Force choose the aircraft as its next-generation trainer. The project would have created 750 jobs in Tuskegee.

But on Thursday, news broke that Leonardo lost a bid for the jet project to Boeing. Instead of the T-100 jet trainer, the Air Force is purchasing 351 T-X aircraft, 46 simulators, and associated ground equipment to replace the Air Education and Training Command’s 57-year-old fleet of T-38C Talons.

Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce Greg Canfield said they were disappointed as it wasn’t the result they had hoped for.

“While we are disappointed that the Air Force chose an alternate for Leonardo DRS and the T-100 as its next jet trainer aircraft, it’s extremely positive that Tuskegee’s Moton Field has been recognized internationally as an ideal site for an aerospace project. Leonardo DRS is a world-class company, and their team has been great to work with throughout the selection process,” Canfield said in a statement. “Additionally, I commend officials at the City of Tuskegee, Macon County and Tuskegee University for their hard work on this project, which has united the community and the region. In particular, Joe Turnham, who put his heart and soul into the project, deserves special recognition.”