USAF moves closer to finalising T-7A Red Hawk design

Boeing and the US Air Force (USAF) have recently conducted both the Aircraft Critical Design Review (CDR) and the System CDR for the T-7A Red Hawk next-generation advanced jet trainer.

Both CDRs we conducted during a three-day summit, which culminated 18 months of development work on the programme. The passing of this milestone means that the air arm is a step closer to finalising its design for its new pilot trainer.

Shanika Sims, chief of the Air Vehicle Branch, said: “This is an important step forward in the life of this [programme]… This design review further solidifies the aircraft and subsystem designs, bring the T-7A Red Hawk closer to production.

Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk [Boeing] #1
A prototype of the Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk in flight. Boeing

“The combined government and Boeing team continues to leverage outside-the-box thinking, process tailoring and are ‘breaking the norms’ by [utilising] advanced engineering digital design practices to design, test and produce aircraft, enabling faster delivery of a high-quality product to the warfighter,” Sims added.

During the CDR, Boeing and USAF analysed the ability of the T-7A’s subsystems and the overall platform to deliver the capabilities required to train fourth- and fifth-generation fighter pilots. According to the USAF, the reviews focused at subsystems “such as the new escape system, engine/propulsion integration and external pylons.” It also used engineering processes “to ensure that the platform design can effectively and successfully deliver the advanced level of training required by new pilots headed for fighters like the F-22 and F-35.”

The USAF kicked off the T-7A Red Hawk programme in September 2018 after it had awarded the Boeing-Saab team a US$9.2bn contract for the delivery of 351 aircraft to replace its ageing Northrop T-38C Talon jet trainer fleet. The first T-7As and associated simulators are expected to arrive at Joint-Base San Antonio (Randolph Air Force Base), Texas, in 2023.