First US Air Force T-7A Red Hawk trainer jet takes to the skies

Boeing, in conjunction with the US Air Force, has completed the maiden flight of the Air Force’s first of five test T-7A Red Hawk trainer jets as the program shifts into its Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase.

The inaugural flight took place at Boeing’s St. Louis facility on June 28, 2023 for a one-hour, three-minute flight with US Air Force Major Bryce Turner of the 416th Test Squadron and Boeing T-7 chief test pilot Steve Schmidt at the controls. The five EMD aircraft will be used by the Air Force Air Education and Training Command for further testing before the Red Hawk goes into full production.

Being developed by Boeing and Saab under a US$9.2-billion contract, the T-7A Red Hawk is one of the largest single US defense programs. It will replace the Air Force’s venerable T-38 jet trainers with 351 new aircraft, along with 46 simulators and ground support services. In addition, such trainer aircraft can also be turned into a light fighter variant for the export market.

Sporting a red tail as a tribute to the African-American Tuskegee Airmen of the Second World War, it is an advanced pilot training system that combines live and virtual flight systems to give students a realistic run for their money. Its open architecture and digital fly-by-wire system also allows it to simulate not only fighters, but bombers as well, in addition to evolving threats and technologies.

“This is an exciting time for the entire team,” said Colonel Kirt Cassell, US 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.”

Source: Boeing

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