Boeing has ramped-up flight trials of the T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer, noting its “busiest week ever” on 1 May.
Boeing has two production representative jets, with a further five to join the programme under the EMD contract. (Boeing)
According to the manufacturer, the production representative jets (PRJs) flew 11 engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) test flights out of its St Louis production facility in Missouri.
Developed in partnership with Saab, the Red Hawk was selected under the T-X Advanced Pilot Training Program (ATP) to replace the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Northrop T-38 Talon that has been in service since the 1960s.
With two PRJs currently flying, the current EMD phase of the contract covers the five further aircraft and seven simulators. Previously, Boeing’s partner, Saab, declined to say when the first EMD aircraft will fly, noting that “this is very sensitive information for the USAF”.
The announcement of the ramp-up of EMD flight trials came a month after Boeing and the USAF concluded the critical design review (CDR) for the ground-based elements of the jet trainer. The T-7A Ground Based Training Systems (GBTS) CDR was a five-day conclusion to 18 months of development work on the systems, and its completion paves the way for manufacturing to begin on the ground-based elements of the USAF’s aircrew training system.
With the first of 351 aircraft set to be delivered to Randolph Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, in 2023, initial operational capability (IOC) is scheduled for 2024. All undergraduate pilot training bases will eventually transition from the T-38C to the T-7A, including those at Columbus AFB, Mississippi; Laughlin AFB and Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Vance AFB, Oklahoma.
Further to the aircraft, the USAF is to receive 46 simulators and associated ground equipment.