April 28, 2022 Boeing Defense, Space & amp; Security has unveiled the first production Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk, a new jet training aircraft that will be the base vehicle for training pilots for 5th and probably 6th generation fighters.
A common child of American Boeing and Swedish Saab AB won a competition to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon training aircraft, which have faithfully served the US Air Force and NASA since the early 1960s. T-38 is a beautiful and reliable vehicle, but the last aircraft of the series were built in 1972, i.e. the youngest of them is 50 years old, it’s time to rest. In addition, it is still a 3rd generation aircraft, while US pilots have been flying 5th generation fighters since 2005, and 6th generation aircraft are already being developed and expected in the 2030s.
The search for Northrop T-38 Talon successor began in 2003, but only in 2015 were technical and operational requirements formulated. The contract provides for the supply of 351 aircraft and amounts to $ 9.2 billion. Potentially, Boeing-Saab is going to build and sell 2,700 (!) Red Hawk T-7A to customers around the world.
The Boeing – Saab T-7A Red Hawk competed with the Italian Leonardo T-100 (a variation on the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master, which in turn is descended from the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130), the American-Korean Lockheed Martin / KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, an updated version of BAE Systems Hawk from Northrop Grumman / BAE Systems (one variant of this aircraft is the well-known US Navy McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk), TAI Hürjet from US Sierra Nevada Corporation and Turkish Aerospace Industries, ATG Javelin from US Aviation Technology Group and Textron AirLand Scorpion. As you can see, the competition was very fierce. In September 2018, the US Air Force declared the Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk the winner.
The first production model of the T-7A Red Hawk, which was presented on April 28, 2022 in St. Louis, has a distinctive black-and-white-red livery with a double red keel. It’s not easy. The plane received such a livery in honor of World War II fighter P-51 Mustangs of Tuskegee Airmen, the first unit of the US Air Force, consisting of black pilots.
An interesting feature of the Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk is the latest software used in the development process. The whole process took place in digital format using advanced digital modeling and manufacturing technologies. It took only 36 months from concept to the first flight of the T-7A, which is a really impressive result. The new training aircraft has open architecture software, digital controls, the latest digital cockpit technology and more. All this provides a new level of safety and quality of training for future fighter pilots.
Another feature of the T-7A Red Hawk is the advanced digital production line, where the process of connecting the fuselage to the wings takes only 30 minutes, with minimal use of tools and drilling. In addition, the design of the T-7 allows in the future to prepare the aircraft for new roles, such as a light attack aircraft or fighter.
The Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk was designed to be the most complete simulation of a 5th generation fighter, and this is important as the US Air Force’s Aviation Education and Training Authority intends to update pilot training programs. According to the head of the department, Lieutenant General Brad Webb, in ten years 60% of Air Force pilots will fly 5th generation fighters.
This is exactly what one of the American pilots recently said about providing Ukraine with 5th generation fighters – it just doesn’t make sense. It is impossible to relearn from 4th to 5th generation aircraft, there are completely different control principles, different reflexes, a different level of immersion in technology. That is why the pilots of the 4th generation aircraft will remain in their cars until the end of their careers, and the pilots of modern aircraft will be trained from scratch.
This does not mean the aces of the Ukrainian Air Force are inferior – give them an F-15 or F-16 (and this will happen!), they will quickly gain an advantage in the air. But our pilots trained on the old L-39 Albatross from the Czechoslovak Aero Vodochody, which also turned 50 years old. We hope that after the victory this will change, and future Ukrainian pilots will train on a Boeing-Saab T-7A Red Hawk, and defend the skies of Ukraine on a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Crew – 2 people
Length – 14.15 m
Wingspan – 10 m
Height – 4 m
Empty weight – 3250 kg
Maximum take-off weight – 5500 kg
Engine – General Electric F404-GE-103
Thrust – 49 кN
Reheated thrust – 76 кN
Maximum speed– 1300 km/h
Cruising speed – 975 km/h
Ceiling – 15 240 m
Flying range – 1840 km