Saab has shipped the second aft airframe section from the company’s Linköping site in Sweden to Boeing in St Louis, Missouri, for use in the T-7A Red Hawk flight test programme.
The July 24 milestone is the latest step in the T-7A programme, which will see up to 400 jet trainers built for the US Air Force, replacing the older T-38 Talon aircraft currently in service. In April 2021, Saab delivered its first T-7A Red Hawk aft airframe section for assembly as a ground-based structural testing aircraft.
Upon completion of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) production phase, Saab’s new US-based facility in West Lafayette, Indiana, will undertake the company’s production of the aft airframe sections for the T-7A programme.
Boeing will splice together Saab’s aft section with the front section, wings, fins and tail assembly to become a complete test aircraft for use in the EMD’s flight test programme. The aft section with installed subsystems - hydraulics, fuel and secondary power system - forms the centre structure of the aircraft from behind the cockpit to the end of the aircraft.
The T-7A Red Hawk is based on the preceding T-X aircraft, which went from concept to first flight in 36 months.
It was recently reported that Saab envisaged the Milestone C landmark, the point at which a programme moves into the production and deployment phase, could be met in late-2022 ahead of moving to a more stable low-rate initial production in 2023.
The programme was reported earlier this year to purportedly be over a year behind schedule and saw a dip in FY2022 funding requests from US$206m to US$189m.