Back in April, aerospace giant Boeing rolled off the first T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer jet, part of a family of military aircraft that will become the backbone of the United States Air Force. The development of the T-7A program took place at Boeing’s site in St. Louis, while the aft section of the trainer aircraft was being built by its partner in the project, Saab, in Linkoping, Sweden.
This week, Boeing and Saab announced that the final aft, or rear section, of the T-7A Red Hawk trainer aircraft arrived at Boeing, signaling the final EMD (Engineering and Manufacturing Development) part delivery. The program also delivered two test fuselages, one for static testing and one for fatigue testing.
With both the forward and aft fuselages of a Red Hawk complete, the two sections were joined together in less than 30 minutes – a fraction of the time it takes for traditional aircraft builds and a testament to the benefits of the T-7A’s digital foundation.
Following completion of the EMD testing phase, Saab will shift production of its T-7A component to their manufacturing facility in West Lafayette, Indiana. The new facility will allow for shorter shipping times and increased collaboration between Boeing and Saab.
In 2018, Boeing was awarded a $9.2 billion USAF contract for 351 T-7A advanced trainers, 46 simulators, and support. The jet was developed from concept to first flight in 36 months, thanks to advanced digital modeling and design techniques. This approach will probably mean a very rapid production process for the fleet as well. The T-7A incorporates open architecture software, digital fly-by-wire controls, and advanced cockpit technology that provide a new level of safety and training for future fighter pilots.
The new advanced jet trainer is powered by a General Electric turbofan engine rated at 17,000 lbf (76 kN) of thrust. It will be replacing the Northrop T-38 Talon.
“Developed with an engineering approach based on digital models, the T-7A represents a revolutionary approach to developing aircraft,” said Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s Business Aeronautics.