Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Boeing completes the first flight of the T-7A Red Hawk trainer jet 

In conjunction with the U.S. Air Force, Boeing has completed the inaugural flight of the service’s first T-7A Red Hawk trainer jets, marking the start of the program’s engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase.

The maiden flight took place at Boeing’s St. Louis facility on June 28, 2023, with U.S. Air Force Major Bryce Turner, 416th Test Squadron, and Steve Schmidt, Boeing T-7 chief test pilot, at the controls. The 1 hour and 3-minute flight validated key aspects of the aircraft and demonstrated the power and agility of the Air Force’s first advanced trainer to be digitally designed, built, and tested.

The aircraft is one of five EMD aircraft that will be delivered to the Air Force Air Education and Training Command for further testing before the Red Hawk goes into full production. The T-7A’s vibrant red tails are a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American U.S. military aviators who flew red-tailed fighters during World War II.

The T-7A will enhance warfighter training through improved pilot readiness, safety, and flexibility for any mission. The all-new advanced pilot training system uses high-resolution ground-based training systems and simulators to deliver robust and realistic integrated live, virtual, and constructive training capabilities. Model-based engineering enabled testing throughout the aircraft’s design and build to help ensure safety before the first flight. The T-7A’s cockpit egress system is the safest of any trainer.

In addition, with open architecture software and digital fly-by-wire controls, the T-7A supports training for a wide variety of fighter and bomber pilots and can evolve as technologies, threats, and training need to change.

“This is an exciting time for the entire team,” said Col. Kirt Cassell, U.S. Air Force T-7A Red Hawk program manager. “The Red Hawk’s digital design integrating advanced training capabilities will drastically improve pilot training for the next generation of fighter and bomber pilots.”

Developed by Boeing in partnership with Swedish planemaker Saab, the T-7A moved from firm concept to flight testing in 36 months. A combination of model-based engineering, 3D design, and advanced manufacturing increased first-time quality by 75% and reduced assembly hours by 80%. In 2018, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract for 351 T-7A advanced trainers, 46 simulators, and support. The T-7A will replace the Air Force’s aging T-38 aircraft.