This month, American plane-maker Boeing started assembly on a U.S. Air Force’s all-new advanced trainer aircraft calls the T-7A Red Hawk at its factory in St. Louis, Mo.
The training jet was fully designed using 3D model-based definition and data management systems developed at Boeing during the last two decades. The T-7A Red Hawk employed the digital engineering and design of the Boeing T-X aircraft that went from firm concept to first flight in just 36 months.
“The future of air dominance lies in the ability to move quickly, take smart risks and partner in new ways to get the job done,” said Shelley Lavender, Boeing senior vice president of Strike, Surveillance and Mobility. “By creating aircraft and systems along a digital thread, we can accelerate build times and increase quality and affordability for our customers in a way that has never been done before.”
The T-7A Red Hawk, manufactured by Boeing, introduces capabilities that prepare pilots for fifth generation fighters, including: high-G environment, information/sensor management, high angle of attack flight characteristics, night operations, and transferable air-to-air and air-to-ground skills.
As noted by the company, the Advanced Pilot Training System also incorporates leading-edge ground-based live and virtual simulators to give students and instructors a “real as it gets” experience.
Step onto the #T7A Red Hawk production line where assembly has begun at our St. Louis, Mo., facility. The Boeing-@SAAB T-7A Red Hawk is the advanced trainer for future @USAirForce pilots. Let’s go fly! pic.twitter.com/6ymlAHN5KK
— Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) February 23, 2021
In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract to supply 351 advanced trainer aircraft and 46 associated ground-based training simulators. Saab is teamed with Boeing on the trainer and provides the aft fuselage of the jet.
“This is a historic moment for the program and industry,” said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president of T-7 Programs. “The build process leverages full-size determinant assembly, which allows technicians to build the aircraft with minimal tooling and drilling during the assembly process. The digital process accounts for a 75% increase in first-time quality.”
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.
According to the U.S. Air Force, the first T-7A aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. All undergraduate pilot training bases will eventually transition from the T-38C to the T-7A. Those bases include: Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi; Laughlin AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas and Vance AFB, Oklahoma.