The first engineering and manufacturing development T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer group made its debut in Saint Louis. The new U.S. Air Force trainer carries twin red tails in homage of the airmen who flew red tailed P-51 Mustangs into combat and into history as the first African American aviation unit in the U.S. military.
“We’re honored to build and fly this digitally designed, advanced trainer,” said Ted Colbert, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “The T-7A Red Hawk proudly carries on the heritage of the Red Tails - reminding us of the Tuskegee Airmen's dedicated service to this nation. We look forward to providing the Air Force with a training system that will train and develop new generations of heroes for decades to come.”
Special guest for the roll out ceremony was Tuskegee Airman, Lt. Col. U.S. Air Force, (ret.) George Hardy, who said his friend and fellow Tuskegee Airman, the late Brig. Gen. Charles McGee was represented in spirit by his two children at the event.
“All of my fellow Tuskegee flyers would be very proud to see these red tails on this beautiful jet,” said Hardy as he motioned to the T-7A Red Hawk. “It’s wonderful that we are being honored in this way.”
The retired Lt. Colonel’s military service spanned almost three decades from World War II where he flew twenty-one combat missions in a P-51 Mustang over Europe, forty-five combat missions over Korea in the Korean conflict and seventy combat missions in AC -119K Gunship aircraft over Vietnam.
“With the rollout of the T-7A Red Hawk we are honoring our heritage as we usher in a new and exciting era of pilot training,” said Lt. General Richard M. Clark, Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, and keynote speaker at the rollout ceremony. “This aircraft links our storied past to the possibilities of our future, and will enable the next generation of Air Force leaders to fulfill their unlimited potential.”
In 2018, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $9.2 billion contract for 351 advanced trainers later named the T-7A Red Hawk and 46 simulators and support. The jet was digitally designed using advanced digital modeling and manufacturing techniques. The jet was developed from concept to first flight in 36-months. The new advanced trainer incorporates open architecture software, digital fly-by-wire controls and advanced cockpit technology that provides a new level of safety and training for future fighter pilots.
The advanced trainer is assembled at Boeing’s St. Louis, Missouri site. The aft section is produced by Saab and digitally joined along the production line.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Paul Niewald, vice president Boeing T-7 programs. “Overcoming production and test challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years and bringing this new technology to the forefront of fighter training will ensure that U.S. Air Force fighter pilots are getting the best training in the world.”
This first T-7A Red Hawk, produced as part of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program, is scheduled to undergo ground and taxi tests before its first flight.