Boeing Begins T-7A Red Hawk Production


The T-7A Red Hawk advanced military training jet has officially entered the production line, according to an announcement from Boeing on Tuesday. The aircraft, originally called the T-X, was designed entirely using the company’s 3D model-based definition and data management systems. It is intended to replace the U.S. Air Force’s 60-year-old T-38 fleet and it has been reported that the Navy is also interested in the T-7A as a replacement for its T-45 trainers.

“This is a historic moment for the program and industry,” said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president of T-7 programs. “The build process leverages full-size determinant assembly, which allows technicians to build the aircraft with minimal tooling and drilling during the assembly process. The digital process accounts for a 75% increase in first-time quality.”

The T-7A, which Boeing developed in partnership with Saab, flew for the first time in 2016. As previously reported by AVweb, Boeing was awarded a $9.2 billion contract for 351 new combat training jets and 46 simulators in July 2018. T-7A simulator production began last December.

Video: Boeing

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  1. As with all USAF pilots of my era, I have my 110 +/- hours in the T-38. Simple, effective, go-fast trainer, fun-to-fly. I am sure that the future crowd will say the same about the T-7. Based on my experience, I would have preferred two motors but that is my personal preference. After all, the Navy hasn’t exactly littered the country with carcasses of the one motor T-45.
    One feature that I hope this aircraft does NOT HAVE is too much “stall” protection. In the T-38, the student had it drummed in that the “numbers” had to be honored or really bad things will happen… and in more than one occasion, they did. Example: in the T-38 you left the rudder pedals alone unless you were taxiing or purposely doing a rudder roll at altitude. In one instance, I saw a -38 upside down high in the final turn… thanks to application of the rudder. Fortunately, the very senior IP saw this coming, reacted fast enough and recovered the aircraft. The student would have been dead had that IP not been there. My IP and all of our IP’s beat that into us.
    The reason that I stress my preference to not have too much automation for “safety” reasons is that pilots need to experience and learn what the aircraft and physics are telling them, to a given level, without learning to blindly rely on automation to save them. Automation can and will fail, period. One just never knows when or to what extent it will fail. Think I am wrong here? Just look up accidents in automated cars like the Tesla, etc. I am NOT knocking those cars or the technology. I am saying that automation should never be the first line of defense. After all, planes in the Airbus fleet are highly automated because engineers know so much more than those silly pilots… yet there are Airbus parts scattered over parts of the landscape. There is lots of stuff that pilots don’t learn about Airbus family aircraft because “they don’t need to know that”. Hmmm…..