WASHINGTON — Boeing’s T-X trainer candidate took to the skies for the first time on Tuesday.

The T-X trainer is Boeing’s entry into the process of selecting a replacement for the Air Force’s T-38 advanced jet trainer. The T-38 is a twin engine supersonic capable jet trainer that has been in service for over 50 years. The Air Force established the T-X program to find a replacement for the T-38.

Watch the Boeing T-X Take its First Flight

During the 55-minute flight, Boeing test pilot Steven Schmidt and Dan Draeger, the company’s chief pilot for Air Force programs, validated the performance of the single-engine, twin-tailed plane jointly designed by Boeing and Swedish aerospace manufacturer Saab.

“I’ve been a part of this team since the beginning, and it was really exciting to be the first to train and fly,” Schmidt said. “The aircraft met all expectations. It’s well designed and offers superior handling characteristics. The cockpit is intuitive, spacious and adjustable, so everything is within easy reach.”

Boeing's T-X Trainer to Be Revealed Next Month

Read Next: Boeing's T-X Trainer to Be Revealed Next Month

“It was a smooth flight and a successful test mission,” Draeger, who sat in the instructor’s seat, stated in a news release. “I had a great all-around view throughout the flight from the instructor’s seat, which is critical during training.”

Read More at Defense News

About 350 aircraft are initially going to be ordered under the T-X program but up to 1000 planes could be produced. 2017 was originally the target date for the program to go operational but budget cuts have pushed that out to the 2023 timeframe.

Featured Image Courtesy of Boeing