T-7A Red Hawk begins U.S. Production

February 19, 2021 in Defense

A new era in aircraft design and assembly has begun as the first U.S. portion of the Boeing-Saab eT-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer officially entered the jet’s state-of-the-art production line. Once delivered to the U.S. Air Force it will carry the name the T-7A Red Hawk.

The training jet was fully designed using 3D model-based definition and data management systems developed at Boeing during the last two decades.

The T-7A Red Hawk has employed the digital engineering and design of the Boeing T-X aircraft that went from firm concept to first flight in just 36 months for the U.S. Air Force Advanced Pilot Training competition.

“The future of air dominance lies in the ability to move quickly, take smart risks and partner in new ways to get the job done,” said Shelley Lavender, senior vice president, Strike, Surveillance and Mobility. “By creating aircraft and systems along a digital thread, we can accelerate build times and increase quality and affordability for our customers in a way that has never been done before.”

Boeing T-7A Red Hawk technician William Helton concentrates as he inspects his work on a skin panel of one of the first T-7A Red Hawk aircraft to move through the St. Louis, Missouri production line.

Randy Jackson

In September 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract to supply 351 advanced trainer aircraft and 46 associated ground-based training simulators. Saab is teamed with Boeing on the trainer and provides the aft fuselage of the jet.

The advanced trainer is replacing the U.S. Air Force’s T-38 and will provide future fighter and bomber pilots with fundamental and tactical training for 5th generation aircraft. Two production relevant aircraft are already in flight test and are about to move into the second phase of flight performance and envelope expansion later this year.

“This is a historic moment for the program and industry,” said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president, 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.”

Boeing T-7A Red Hawk flight test engineer Jordan Becker examines the skin of a new eT-7A Red Hawk as it begins its journey through the St. Louis, Missouri production line.