Boeing has officially begun work on the first T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer for the US Air Force.
The company will perform its portion of work on the air force’s next generation trainer at its St. Louis facility. Sweden’s Saab, who is also building sections of the T-7A aircraft, started work on the program in January 2020.
Designated the eT-7A by the US Air Force because of its digital heritage, Red Hawk was fully designed using 3D model-based definition and data management systems. 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.
Boeing will be delivering 351 advanced trainer aircraft and 46 associated ground-based training simulators to the service under a $9.2 billion contract from September 2018. Saab is providing the aft fuselage of the jet.
Delivery of the first eT-7A is expected to take place by 2023.
“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.”
Dabundo also revealed that Boeing was in talks with the US Navy about a T-7 trainer version that could possibly replace the service’s T-45 Goshawk jet trainer. The navy is in search for a new trainer aircraft and has already issued a request for information seeking off the shelf solutions that could be fielded by 2028 and be capable of supporting aircraft carrier training.