In what can be termed a first, Boeing has pulled the curtains off the production of its first T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer jet for the United States Air Force at its St. Louis, Mo., facilities on April 28.
T-7A Red Hawk – the next generation of pilot training
The T-7A is a joint venture between Boeing and Saab, touted to replace the Northrop T-38 trainer, which has been in service for half a century and will be phased out beginning in 2023.
The Red Hawk builds off the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, paying tribute to the legends of the past and the heroes of the future. The canopy rail of the rollout jet was painted with the names of Red Tails commander, the late Brigadier General Charles McGee and Lt. Col. George Hardy, who attended the event. Boeing showed videos honouring the Tuskegee Airmen and linking the jet to their legacy.
The Tuskegee Airmen are one of the most celebrated units in our Air Force history, and the T-7A honors the bravery and skill of these trailblazers. Like the Airmen they were named and painted to pay homage to, the T-7A Red Hawks break down the barriers of flight. These digitally-engineered aircraft will make it possible for a diverse cross section of future fighter and bomber pilots to be trained, and provide an advanced training system and capabilities that will meet the demands of today’s and tomorrow’s national security environmentsaid Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Tech and specs
According to Boeing, the T-7A is ergonomically designed, equally for both- pilots and the ground crew, with access panels set at a comfortable height that gives easy access to the internal components.
Compared to traditional aircraft development programs, the T-7A experienced:
- A 75% increase improvement in first-time engineering quality
- An 80% reduction in assembly hours
- A 50% reduction in software development and verification time
Having taken three years in the making- right from the concept to the first flight, the design of the aircraft included a modular design, developed specifically for maintainers, highly immersive training and offloading of skills and advanced fighter-like performance features that are commensurate with today’s 4th and 5th-gen fighter aircraft. This feature of commonality allows the use of existing maintenance infrastructure, further lowering life cycle costs.
The Red Hawk’s fighter-like design and performance, combined with embedded and live virtual constructive training, allows the download of training tasks from the existing fleet to a lesser cost platform while simultaneously delivering realistic training solutions that better prepare pilots for the training mission.
|Powerplant||1 × General Electric F404-GE-103 afterburning turbofan, 11,000 lbf (49 kN) thrust dry, 17,000 lbf with afterburner|
It is history in the making. The T-7A has already … revolutionized how aircraft are designed and built. It won’t be the last new airplane designed this wayBoeing bombers and fighters vice president Steve Parker said
The aircraft also has an in-built adaptive capability wherein it can be easily adapted to changing technologies and learning methods.
The T-7A’s design also includes provisions for growth as requirements evolve for additional missions such as an aggressor, light attack/fighter variant.
Ironically, the rollout comes just a day after Boeing announced the loss of $367 million on the T-7A in the first quarter of 2022.
However, though, David L. Calhoun- CEO and president of Boeing, stated that the aircraft will be in service “for decades” and will be built in large numbers, and should eventually be profitable for Boeing.
The first T-7A squadron is to be operational in 2024. Furthermore, Boeing aims to sell over 2,700 Red Hawks globally.