Boeing unveils first T-7A Red Hawk trainer for the US Air Force
Boeing has taken the wraps off the first production T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer jet that is slated for delivery to the US Air Force. The first of an initial order of 351, the aircraft features special livery honoring the Tuskegee Airmen.
A joint venture of Boeing and Saab, the T-7A will replace the Northrop T-38 trainer, which has been in service for half a century and will be phased out beginning in 2023. The new trainer is designed to teach pilots to handle next-generation fighters and bombers, while being capable of adapting to changes in aerospace technology thanks to the use of digital engineering processes.
According to Boeing, the T-7A is not only ergonomically designed for the pilot, but also for the ground crew, with access panels set at a comfortable height that give easy access to the internal components. In addition, the engine can be swapped out by a small crew in a few hours.
Though the T-7A is primarily a trainer, its airframe and digital design can also be modified to act as a light fighter or attack aircraft. Currently, the forward section of the T-7A is manufactured by Boeing in St. Louis and the aft section in Linkoping, Sweden, though Saab will be shifting production to a new facility in West Lafayette, Indiana. In the meantime, the first T-7A will complete ground and flight tests before being handed over to the Air Force.
The livery of the first T-7A includes a red tail to honor the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Primarily composed of African Americans, the 922 pilots of the 332d Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group (Medium) of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) were the first black military pilots to serve in the US armed forces.
"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," said Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force. “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 environment."
The video below discusses the debut of the T-7A Red Hawk.