Boeing presented the first of the 351 T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer jets that are to be delivered to the United States Air Force to replace the current fleet of Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft.

The Red Hawk is a result of a partnership between Boeing and the Swedish manufacturer Saab. The duo won the TX competition, which aimed to find a replacement for the Cold War-era Northrop T-38 Talon. 

The name of Red Hawk was chosen as an homage to the African-American fighter pilots of the Second World War, the Tuskegee Airmen, who painted their planes’ tails red.

“This aircraft is a tangible example of how Boeing, its suppliers and partners are leading the digital engineering revolution,” Ted Colbert, president and CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security commented. “T-7A will prepare pilots for future missions for decades to come.”

While the production of the frontal section, wings and final assembly takes place at Boeing’s St. Louis facility, the tail section was built by Saab in Linkoping, Sweden. After the first seven tails are built, production should be transferred to West Lafayette, Indiana, where Saab is building a new facility.

“Collectively we set out an ambitious vision: to redefine what a trainer jet is, but also how they are made, and we have succeeded,” said Saab’s President and CEO Micael Johansson. “This program has significantly grown our U.S. operations, fulfilling Saab’s promise of U.S. jobs, technology transfer and local economic benefits.”

Only 36 months passed between the first concept of the aircraft and its maiden flight on December 20, 2016, something that Boeing says it owes to ‘digital engineering and design.’ As such, it became the first in the USAF E-Series, which designated it eT-7A. 

In June 2021, the United States Air Force delayed the full-rate production decision from 2022 to 2023 after a wing rock issue at high angles of attack was identified during flight tests.

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After a wing rock issue was discovered while testing the upcoming T-7A Red Hawk advanced trainer, the USAF decided to delay the full-rate production by a year.