By Jessica Machetta

Nearly 2,000 jobs could be headed to St. Louis-based Boeing if it lands a 16-billion dollar contract with the U.S. Air Force. The company today announced its new T-X Air Force jet that could be used in military training for fighter pilots. If awarded the bid, Boeing would build 350 T-X jets.

Photo courtesy of Boeing

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, says the number of Air Force pilots has slowed to a crawl because of the fleet of aging T-38 aircraft.

“The world is a dangerous place. We have to be ready at a moment’s notice,” says McCaskill. “One of the reasons we have a shortage of pilots is the training aircraft now doesn’t have the capabilities it needs to train our pilots of today.”

McCaskill, who is a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, says the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea is an example of why the country needs the most advanced military resources.

“Especially in light of the threats we are facing from North Korea, Russia and Iran, it’s incredibly important that we’re able to train up our Air Force pilots and our fighter pilots in an efficient way,” says McCaskill.

The Air Force contract is expected to be given by the end of this year.

More than 14,000 Missourians work at the eastern Missouri Boeing plant.