Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Air Force begins flight tests for T-7A Red Hawk digital trainer aircraft


November 13, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

The T-7A arrives at Edwards AFB. Air Force photo by Todd Schannuth.

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. The first Boeing T-7A Red Hawk military trainer successfully arrived at Edwards Air Force Base on November 8, a move that kicks off the U.S. Air Force developmental flight-test campaign for the aircraft. When all tests are completed, the T-7A is intended to be the replacement pilot-training capability for the T-38 Talon, which was first fielded in the early 1960s.

The aircraft -- using the call sign APT-2 -- is the first production representative jet off the assembly line and was piloted by a joint U.S. Air Force and Boeing aircrew. According to the Air Force announcement, the aircrew collaboration in the cockpit represents the structure of the T-7A Integrated Test Force, which will see Air Force and Boeing team members working shoulder-to-shoulder to rapidly test and certify the aircraft. The Air Force says that the T-7A team has been leveraging digital transformation through Distributed Test Operations since 2019, a method of collaborating that enables seamless networked capability between Boeing’s facilities in St. Louis and mission control rooms at Edwards AFB. 

Maj. Jonathan Aronoff, T-7A test pilot, said of the first flight: "This arrival marks an exciting transition into the next phase of developmental flight. The T-7A gives immense capability updates that will allow the Air Force to train the next generation of combat aviators. Success of first delivery is truly a testament to the joint USAF-industry team we have in place.” 

The T-7A is a joint Boeing-Saab effort, with Saab delivering the aft sections of the aircraft plus associated subsystems. The T-7A Red Hawk -- whose name echoes the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen and pays homage to their distinctive red-tailed aircraft from World War II -- accomplished its its first Air Force-piloted flight in June, 2023.

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