Aircraft manufacturer Boeing, in conjunction with the U.S Air Force, completed the first test flight of the new Boeing T-7A Red Hawk trainer on Wednesday 28 June.
This crucial development marks a huge step in the right direction towards the USAF receiving its brand new jet trainer in the coming years.
First test flight
The first example of this new jet trainer took off from St Louis Lambert International Airport (STL/KSTL) and in total conducted a successful 1 hour 3 minute test flight.
The aircraft was piloted by US Air Force Maj. Bryce Turner from the 416th Test Squadron and Steve Schmidt, Boeing’s T7 Chief Test Pilot.
The intent of the test flight was to test, evaluate and validate key aspects of the aircraft, plus the power and agility of it.
This particular frame is set to be the first of 5 EMD aircraft due to be delivered to the Air Force Air Education and Training Command for further testing.
A major step since 2018
The U.S Air Force awarded Boeing the contract to develop the T-7A Red Hawk in 2018 in a bid to create a replacement for its aging Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft.
This jet trainer has been in service with the Air Force for nearly 60 years and since the contract for the T-7 has been awarded to Boeing, the phased retirement of T-38s has been earmarked to start this year in 2023.
In total, when the contract was awarded, the USAF ordered a massive 351 T-7As, along with 46 simulators and support to work alongside it all, costing a staggering $9.2billion USD.
“This first flight with the Air Force represents our team’s commitment to delivering a new level of safety and training for fighter and bomber pilots”, said Evelyn Moore, vice president and program manager, Boeing T-7 Programs.
She added “We remain focused on engineering ways to better prepare warfighters for changing mission demands and emerging threats”.
In addition, Col. Kirt Cassell, US Air Force T-7A Red Hawk Program Manager, said “This is an exciting time for the entire team”, adding “The Red Hawk’s digital design integrating advanced training capabilities will drastically improve pilot training for the next generation of fighter and bomber pilots”.
Enhancing warfighter training in many aspects
The brand new T-7A will enhance the jet fighter training aspect within the air force in 3 key areas as listed by Boeing. These areas are:
Improved pilot readiness – This refers to the all new advanced pilot training system, which uses high resolution ground based training systems and simulators to deliver robust and realistic integrated live, virtual and constructive training capabilities.
Safety – Model based engineering enabled testing throughout the aircraft’s design and build to ensure safety before the first flight. The T-7A’s cockpit egress system is the safest of any trainer.
Flexibility for any mission – With open architecture software and digital fly by wire controls, the T-7A supports training for a wide variety of fighter and bomber pilots and can evolve as technologies, threats and training needs change.
With this in mind, it looks the T-7A Red Hawk is going to be a game changing aircraft for the US Air Force in pilot training.
Furthermore, it has also seen interest on a global scale, with Serbia and Australia also showing their interest in the jet as well as Boeing pitching the aircraft to Brazil too.
Clearly it seems the aircraft has a good and long future ahead.