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Boeing debuts the USAF's first test T-7A Red Hawk trainer

Boeing rolls out its first T-7A Red Hawk jet in St Louis, Missouri. (Boeing/Eric Shindelbower)

Boeing unveiled its first test T-7A Red Hawk trainer for the US Air Force (USAF) at its factory in St Louis, Missouri, on 28 April. The aircraft will be used to replace the service's Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon for training fighter and bomber pilots.

The test aircraft is the first of five for the USAF's engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) programme phase. All five EMD aircraft should make their first flight and join the developmental test and evaluation (DT&E) programme in 2022, Paul Niewald, Boeing's vice-president for T-7 programmes, told Janes earlier in 2022.

Boeing said that the test plane will stay in St Louis to undergo ground and flight-tests before being delivered to the USAF. The first T-7As are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in 2023. The air force expects the trainer to reach initial operational capability in fiscal year (FY) 2024.

A Boeing-Saab team beat Lockheed Martin for the USAF's USD9.2 billion contract in 2018. The service initially wants 351 aircraft and 46 ground-based training systems (GBTSs), but additional aircraft and simulators could be added to the contract.

Boeing and the USAF have not publicly announced the annual T-7A production rates, but Boeing has told Janes that it could produce up to 48 aircraft per year for the current USAF contract, with the ability to produce more.

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